My Most Recent Lie

So those that know me should know I'm so done having babies. After Anna was born, I gave away everything....a crib, Baby Bjorn, bouncy seats, megasaucers....everything! My two under two were a handful and I wasn't about to have another one, EVER. Well, of course, as the months went on and they turned into years, my tune has started to change. If someone asks if we are having another baby (why, dear God is it anyone's business?) I usually respond with "not today."

We've always kept a few things around "just in case." The crib still sits in the basement. The baby bathtub sits on a spare shelf and somehow I've managed to keep a few things here and there. Even a pack of diapers I was ready to pass along to a friend, suddenly has taken up residence in my dining room "just in case," my husband says.

This week I listed my pristine, almost unused, Pack n' Play on Craigslist in an attempt to free up space in my basement. The potential buyer asked for a picture. As I opened it up and saw how unused it was (why did I open it?) I started to have baby pangs. Even Andrew looked up from the morning paper and sighed. I was having doubt. How could sell this? What if I needed it one more time?

My chorus continued with Alex bursting from the breakfast table, "That's where my new baby brother will sleep." Anna echoes in with "No, my baby sister will sleep here."

Oh no, how do I tell both there is no baby brother or sister....not yet anyway.

After going over it all in my head, I lied to the family interested in the Pack n' Play. "It's broken," I told them. "I opened it to look it over and my youngest jumped in it and broke it. Sorry, I can't sell it to you." This was the scariest lie in a long while I've had to tell. Scary because it's admitting that I have doubts about being done, and maybe wanting another at some point. Somehow it seems by getting rid of the baby stuff it then will free you from the obligation to "make the choice." We have no baby stuff why should we have another. But if you have a crib, a carseat or a few clothes around, then there is that thread of possibility and maybe even hope left.

Well, we now are proud continuing owners of a Graco Pack n' Play that may one day host another baby, maybe . . . one day, but not today.


The Cheapest Indoor Gig So Far

So living out in the DC 'burbs, one might think it would lend itself to lots of wonderful indoor things to do. Not so much. Most of the museums are 30-45 minutes away and getting there with parking is tricky. We are fortunate to have a branch of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum only 15 minutes from our house.

The only drawback: my kids aren't entertained there for more than an hour. And while the museum is free, parking is $12. It's not a lot of money, but it seems like it when they are more interested in riding elevators and running on the ramps. Oh, and don't forget obsessing over the squished penny machine.

However, I found out that parking is free after 4 p.m. since the museum closes at 5:30. So we gave it try on Wednesday. First tip: don't get there until after 4. I showed up at the gate right at 4 p.m. on the nose and this is what the lady said to me...

Stupid Lady: "Yes, can I help you?"
Me: "Yes, we'd like to go to the museum."
Stupid Lady: "You'd like to visit the museum?"
Me: "Yes, that's why I'm here."
Stupid Lady: "That will be $12."
Me: "No, it's free after 4."
Stupid Lady: "It's not 4 yet."
Me: "My clock says 4."
Stupid Lady: "Well, it's not 4. If you want to reverse your car and turn around you can wait back there with the other cars waiting until 4."
Me: "&!@% ^%^&"

That aside, it was the only bad part of our visit. I wished I'd gotten her name so I could post it here. Stupid lady! Anyway, we walked in, and I let the kids lead. Since it was free, I figured we'd do whatever they wanted to do. They did squished pennies (which, ironically, I had no pennies for, but the woman in the gift shop generously gave us some to use.) I let the kids run and ride the elevators. The place was practically empty and they were better behaved than the last time. Did they look at the exhibits? Not really, only the space/rocket part and a few planes. Alex was enthused about the flight simulators and the man there let him just sit in it instead of paying the $7 for the ride. My kids both thought just sitting in it was cool enough.

Bonus for us: The McDonald's in there was getting rid of chicken nuggets for the day so we got a discount on nuggets for a snack.

So once the kids heard the announcement that the museum would be closing in 15 minutes, they were ready to leave. (It closes at 5:30 so the 4 p.m. free entrance gives you an hour and a half of free indoor fun!)


My Life in Six Little Words

A fellow mom blogger sent this NPR story to me today. (I really must start listening to NPR more since that's twice in two days I've referenced them.) The article was talking about the book Not Quite What I Was Planning, a collection of six-word memoirs by famous and not-so-famous writers, artists and musicians. Their stories are sometimes sad, often funny — and always concise. So how would you paraphrase your life in six words? Leave it to Ernest Hemingway to come up with something profound like: "For Sale: baby shoes, never worn." I mean, c'mon, he is Hemingway.

I didn't think long and hard about my six words, mainly due to lack of time. I wasn't sure if kids should be in my paraphrased life. While they are most of my life, they've only been part of it for four years. So that's why there's no mention of "mom" in my six words. I was trying to think about who I am and what I do.

Unfortunately, this is all I could come up with:
"Telling stories, finding truth, in haste"

After further reflection, I might add
"Curly blondes do have more fun."

How about you? What would yours be?


No Shoes Please at School

Many other cultures in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, remove their shoes before entering a home--their own or a friends. If you have ever lived in a location where the weather is rainy, snowy or sandy many days during the year, you'll understand why removing of shoes is a good habit to get into. There is nothing grosser than having excess dirt tracked in by your shoes. It makes cleaning a house easier and in general, if you have kids, you feel better about them being on the floor.

While many people in the States have slowly started adopting this practice, I can't understand why preschools have not! How gross that our kids go outside to play and then come in with their muddy or sandy shoes and then proceed to play on the floor. Eeewww....

I only recently realized this when Alex asked why they didn't take off their shoes at school. In Sweden, he was required to remove outside shoes right at the door of preschool and put on "house shoes" for inside the classroom.

I would love to see schools start adopting this routine as well. Not that a little dirt doesn't hurt, but just the thought of my kid sitting in circle time or rolling around on the dirty carpets at school kind of grosses me out.

Open Gym Available in Northern Virginia...Finally!

While Northern Virginia is filled with tons of outdoor activities (zoo, gardens, parks, playgrounds, farms, etc.) it is really lacking in places to take kids on rainy, snowy or super hot days. I have long been waiting for the perfect indoor playground or even a coffee shop with a play area.

Today after a tip from a friend, we decided to check out Sport Bounce in Ashburn. Let me just say, this place is a great starting point for indoor fun. It's a large space filled with eight inflatable moonbounces. They are different sizes, with obstacle courses and slides--fun for kids as small as 18 months and as old as probably seven years old. Even I had a fun on some of them. (Yes, moms are allowed to jump too.) The facility is one of the cleanest I have ever seen, with nice bathrooms and an area with benches in the middle. There are two separate rooms which are perfect if your kid needs a break from the chaos. They even have coffee!

The cost is a little high $9 per kid and $7 for siblings. No food is allowed during the Open Gym. I'm not sure if that's for allergy reasons or to keep the moon bounces clean. We managed to sneak a banana right near the entrance since my kids were pretty hungry after an hour of bouncing.

The staff seems open to suggestions for the facility. My only suggestion would be to have a gate before entering the "room" because a child could get separated and roam out of the building if not careful. A baby gate might help give one more layer to little escapees. The other suggestion is to have a "snack" area. Two hours of jumping is a long time and both of mine really needed some recharge after all of that. Someone else mentioned a small area with a ball pit for the little ones would be a nice addition for those that have younger siblings who can't quite do the whole moonbounce thing.

But it's an excellent place to take your kids on a yucky or hot day and once word spreads, I hope Sport Bounce will flourish and profit so it will stick around for a while.


Will That Toy Make My Kid Stupid? Imagination May Be Best

This was cross posted on DC Metro Moms.

For those of us with toys scattered in every room in the house (isn't that everyone?)--toys that aren't played with, touched or looked at--we might wonder why even bother with toys. Between recalled toxic toys, age inappropriate ones, and the ones taking over our homes, what's a mom to do?

After reading this NPR article yesterday, I realized the answer might be a simple one -- to stop the influx of unnecessary toys. This article talked not about particular toys, but what toys in general do (or rather don't do) for our kids. Toys and organized/structure play just take away from our kids' imagaination and ability to make believe. According to one of the sources in the article, making believe that they are pirates, princesses and super heros is what children should be doing -- since this self regulation is what helps kids better able to control their emotions and behavior, resist impulses, and exert self-control and discipline.

But even more than that, learning to use your imagination is just a good learned skill. I always think back to Anne in Anne of Green Gables when she's floored by what little imagination adults might have. I mean, even in her day, what toys did children have? Maybe a doll, a ball or some blocks? But certainly everything was basic enough to help spark the imagination.

What I relief this all is to me. For years I've been wondering what I was doing wrong in the toy department. My kids each play with about three of their favorite things and besides those, they ignore the rest. I have stopped buying them and started giving them away since my kids seem more interested in playing ghosts or chimney (that's where they crawl through things and pretend they are Santa) than playing the latest and greatest toy.

I remember as a child -- even with all the toys I had -- some of my favorite memories were playing Little House on the Praire or Annie in the woods outside my house. In fact, I saw a perfect example of imagination on the playground a few weekends ago. Although it was being "led" by a mom. I walked by an area of sticks with paper plates attached, a few looking like spaceships. Some of the sticks had paper with drawings. This one mom was leading a group of children in a creative story creation. Each kid was drawing pictures of princesses and dragons, and making up their own characters. Then each child was given a chance to tell the story the way he/she saw it happening in their imagination. They would pull things from the nearby wooded area -- sticks, rocks, leaves -- to help flesh out their fantasy.

So back to the toys....every Christmas and birthday, grandparents/friends ask what my kids would like. Every year the answer seems to be the same, "They don't need anything. They don't play with toys, really." If it's not puzzles, games or books, my kids just wander around the house making PVC piping into tunnels, boxes into spaceships or flashlights into swords. (Yikes, Ok, I didn't say it was safe.) Perhaps, now I can at least feel justified in my response to the family each holiday. Just skip the loud, overstimulating toys, they might be making my kids stupid! This will make the toy pruning process so much easier.

Here is another interesting blog post on this topic.

From Ghosts to Rocks

Last week, in my last-minute attempt to get my house cleaned and organized before my girls' weekend away, I very nicely asked (ahem...begged) my kids to entertain themselves for a bit while I cleaned my very dirty bathrooms.

I was surprised to find that their imaginations still worked and they were able to entertain themselves for almost two hours--hey, don't I know that sounds unbelievable--playing ghosts and rocks. One might ask 'how do you play this game?' Well, it's very easy. You find two good-sized blankets. Bam, instant ghosts. They would "woooooooo woooooo" around the house. Each room had some kind of secret Alex/Anna theme. Laundry baskets, bean bags, rocking horses, chairs, beds all became props of some kind. Then they would instantly turn to 'rocks' and pretend to be as still as possible under the blankets. After an hour they spiced up the game by playing it naked! But, heck, I didn't care. It meant I cleaned a good part of the house while having ghosts and rocks around to entertain.

Ahhhh.....So Relaxed After Weekend Away

After a close call with mother nature on Friday (did you see the ice storm moving across the country?), I actually did make it out of town with my girlfriend. I'm a bit surprised it happened since it required not only her plane to arrive, but my husband's as well, since someone needed to look after the kids. Both arrived in time, and best friend and I hopped in the car for a nice weekend in Annapolis. It was filled with sleeping in, long meals (without interruptions) and just wandering at our own pace.

I feel like I can be a better mommy now that I had a break.


Our Calm Amid the Storm Today

Our house has been a battleground all day. I battled Anna back to bed last night and this morning at 5:50 a.m. when she decided she was up for the day. I fought with Alex over this breakfast cereal that I so graciously offered when he came downstairs this morning. I battled with him over a short-sleeve T-shirt (me insisting that since it was 23 degrees this morning short sleeves were not acceptable.) What a mean mommy, huh? After 15 minutes, I relented. Exhausted. I got mine when he walked out and cried because he was cold and agreed he should have listened to me.

Even on a day when both kids went to school, I seemed to spend most of it arguing with someone and striking deals. Seems I shouldn't be the one having to do this.

But even amid the battles, I had a pleasant moment during Anna's haircut today. She loves going to Cartoon Cuts to have her haircut, and it means she can watch 10 minutes of Wiggles during the whole thing. But there she sat .... Miss Sassy ... sitting quietly (for the first time all day) in the chair donned in full salon cape mesmerized by the show. I had 10 minutes to just look at her cute quiet face, including her big chubby cheeks which are usually busy screaming at someone. Every few minutes she would look over at me--in between hair snips--and smile. I think this is what it is like for those who can sneak in after bedtime and watch their quiet, sleeping children.

Of course, we went right back into the swing of things after the haircut, but for just a few minutes I got to enjoy just watching her and all her potential sweetness which I hope may flourish again after toddlerhood ends.


No More Goldfish

I want to give a big shout out to last week's Washington Post Health section when I read about the U.S. Department of Agriculture's M.O.M. Project starting this spring. I'm never sure what national campaigns really do except bring awareness to their target audience, but this one seems well worth the effort in my opinion since good nutrition is such a good investment.

Recently, our household has been on a food overhaul since this past August when I got tired of finding orange Goldfish in every nook and cranny conceivable to man. While it's only been six months, we've really started to change our family eating habits for the most part. For my husband and I it wasn't too difficult since we have always been good about making smart food choices, but this was a challenge feeding the kids.

To read more, see posting on DC Metro Moms.


All Work and No Naps Makes Mommy Very Grumpy

So, we've said goodbye to the crib for Anna. With it, I was certain would come the end of naps for her. But the disappearing nap award goes to my oldest child. (About time, you say?) Alex has decided to nap only every few days. What does this leave me? Grouchy! While I still get an hour of peace--by forcing him to stay in his room for an hour--I get a tired, fussy and demanding four-year old. He's almost to the point of unruly and confrontational. I'm not sure if this is the the lack of napping or simply his age.

On top of that, he has totally abandoned any listening ability he has learned in the past four years. I might as well say 'I'm leaving you and moving to Mars' for all he cares. Nothing is working. Not the 1-2-3 Magic I so often praise. No reverse physchology. No amount of bribing. I am fresh out of ideas and patience these days.


The Weekend Away

I am gearing up for a weekend away. Away from kids and home. My best friend and I have finally managed to arrange a trip away without our kids--she has two the same age as me BUT with one more on the way. I cannot tell you how much I need this break from it all and how much this break will be appreciated. Moms need a break. You may think the moms who work at home....from home...stay at home.. have the breaks they need. And while, yes, they probably have it better than some...we really do still need a break. So off we'll go for 48 hours of bliss. No kids. No responsiblity. No curfew. Just fun.


Saying Goodbye to the Crib

A crib is so symbolic of our little ones--a place to be kept safe when they are young, a place to be confined when they are older and a place to escape from when they are ready.

Yesterday, we said goodbye to the crib. And what did I do? I cried.

Maybe it's because I remember picking out the crib before our son was born. I labored over the decision. Living overseas at the time, I had friends and family go to Babies R Us to check it out. I remember the day it arrived and the day we put it together in anticipation of our first born. My husband and I worked on it together and had it ready for him months in advance of his arrival.

I remember how Alex used to sleep wrapped up like a burrito and we'd turn him so his body was crossways in the crib. And when he got too big to be laid that way, we turned him lengthwise. He loved his crib and would hang out in there some mornings for up to an hour. I think for both of us, the crib meant peace.

Shortly after his second birthday, he asked to be moved to the big boy bed. So we did . . . with a seemless transition. Anna received the crib and all was fine. She wasn't quite as fond of it as he had been. It was more of a fight to get her in and make her stay. But she was a good girl and we never had an attempted escape.

After a week of getting up early to rescue our newly potty-trained daughter from the crib for morning bathroom trips, I realized it was time. At two and a half she is well-past the normal age for big girl beds. So today, we purchased a new bed for Alex and moved his low-rider bed into Anna's room. Andrew took apart the crib which has been a part of our household for four years now and stored it in the basement. We're not sure if another child will be a part of lives right now, but it's there just in case.

In the meantime, I'm sad about this milestone. The diapers, the bottles, the stroller...all went easier for me. The crib is a bit more symbolic of her own independence (although we all know she has always been indepedent) now I have no way to really fence her in. Perhaps we should put a gate/lock on the door just in case.

Our first night in the bed went well. Only one roll out and one trip to the bathroom in the early morning, but with a quick return to bed.


Monkey mama

[Papa Monkey here guest blogging surreptitiously]

For Valentine's day, I thought I'd post a Lindy apprecation addition to the Monkeybusiness blog.

In addition to keeping up the Monkeybusiness blog, Lindy:
-manages to actually feed, clothe, school, read to, teach, entertain, discipline, smother with love, and be an amazing mom to two of the most demanding munchkins known to man.
-keeps the house going when everyone is sick
-holds down the house when many husbands are home but I'm at work or traveling
-is a sympathetic ear, a supportive wife, and the pillar of our family.
-is writing a full-length book on parenting
-creates a house with a creative, artistic and harmonious spirit
-and the list could go on ad infinitum, but I don't want to bore the loyal readers

In short, to make public what I've long said in private, Lindy rocks!


Relief: We Are In

Both my kids received their forms from School C with our top choice granted. This will mean a few things for me:

1. Alex will go 4 days a week and Anna 3.
2. I will only have 2 days a week with NO kids.
3. I will still have to drive to school 5 days a week.
4. BUT, I will finally have one day alone with Alex. Poor Alex. Since Anna came along he rarely gets time alone with me.
5. They both will have one day to enjoy lunch bunch together, so that will give me four hours of no kids that day.



The Scary Old Maid

Alex has decided he loves card games. We do Go Fish, Crazy 8s, War and now Old Maid. But heaven help him should he actually get the Old Maid. He throws his head back and wails, "I don't want her. She's so scary!" Anna's response (looking on a bit unsure), "Oh, Alex. It's OK, she's not THAT scary!" Even after trying to convince him that there's still a chance I can get her back, he forfeits the game because he can't stand the sight of her.

The Preschool Lottery Begins

Today is the lottery for School C. I am a bit nervous. While we are a returning family, I still want to make sure this is all wrapped up so I can focus on other things--like planning a summer vaction. I can't believe I have to think about this stuff when there is snow falling outside.

So the preschool topic has been hot, hot, hot on the mommy message boards lately. What school? What kind of curriculum? Is Montessori better? How many days? How much money? Those who have not gone this path yet must think we have all truly gone mad. But when it's your turn you will see how it really is like college admission, minus the test scores and interviews. We plan, we strategize, we schmooze, we bribe (OK, I haven't tried this yet) and we lay awake at night wondering if we did the right thing.

In the past year and a half, I have checked out almost 10 preschools in our area. Here are a few things I have learned for part time preschool:

--Commute is a huge thing. If you are only dropping off a child for three hours, half an hour commute can eat into "mommy time."

--All schools are play based. I have yet to see one preschool that isn't play based, even the Montessori schools. Perhaps they are out there, but I haven't seen them. No one wants kids drilled in ABCs.

--Visit schools during non-open house hours as well. While open houses are good to see the teachers, students and other potential parents on their best behavior, make sure you visit during normal times as well.

--Snacktime is important. What a school feeds your child for snack is a window into their philosphy of overall care for a child. Goldfish and Teddy Grahams alone does not foster good nutrition for little ones. But fruit, veggies, crackers, pretzels make me feel better about the school in general.

--Parent involvement is a good thing. Parents provide a good checks/balances system for teachers and the director.

--School shouldn't be too dirty or too clean. You don't want to smell pee in the school, but if you don't see any dirt or toys out of place, that also is unsettling.

--Mixing of ages is not always a bad thing. People these days seem to think young kids mixing with the older ones is pressure on their own kid to do certain things. It's great if little ones learn from the older ones and the older ones can learn to respect the little ones. If the classes tend to mix ages during the day, that is a definite plus, I think.

And that's it. Good luck and feel free to share more things you've learned through this process.

I Voted!

I took the kids this morning to vote. They, of course, thought the coolest thing was the stickers. But I was happy to introduce them to this wonderful right we have as Americans. And for anyone wondering about my politics, as mentioned before, if you'd been in the room you would have heard me calling out, "Hey, you signed me in as a Democrat. I'm voting Republican."

So, now you know. This small-SUV driving, organic feeding, all-terrain strollering, homemade baking, Pampers-using, baby wearing mom, who sends her kids to a church-based preschool and doesn’t allow TV in the house is not who you all thought.

In reality, I'm a Republican turned Indpendent these days. But I had many, many of you fooled.


Preschool Admission: Denied by School M

We were denied a spot. They had too many applications and while we were asked if Alex would like the 3 days slot, that would mean not ONLY would I have to drive to the school 5 days, but neither kid would be at school at the same time. So, now we're only left with School C.


Singin' in the Rain

In my latest issue of Wondertime magazine, I caught a small article about great old movies to watch with your kids. I was pleased to see Singin' in the Rain top the list. My kids both LOVED this movie from the first day we put it on. And I have to admit, if you haven't seen it recently, it's worth a watch or two. Or 100...as we now own this and watch it over and over again.

Also on our list of top great movies my kids enjoy is Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, Little Princess (with Shirley Temple) and the Music Man. If you haven't thought to introduce your kids yet to musicals, I would recommend giving it a try (with a few viewings). You'd be surprised how something so simple can really please. Our biggest surprise so far was the old silent movie The General. Even without words, my kids thought this short film from 1927 was fun to watch.

Journey to Preschool Admission: The Final Decision--Part 8

With deadlines looming and parents impatiently waiting, I have submitted my forms and money to the two choosen schools: School C (where my kids would be returning) and School M.

I decided not to visit School U and School F did not really meet my needs. The decision came down to a few things. Money, days/times and general mommy instinct.

With School C, my main issue is that I would have to drive to school five days a week. While my two would overlap on three days, I would have each kid alone for one. This could be a plus. The only downside is I never get a day with both alone to just do fun stuff. That's the thing I love about being a stay-at-home mom. If we wake up Friday and feel like going to the park, we go. If we want to hit the zoo, we can. We are limited by schedules. However, I will say, if we take this option, I might be more apt to letting my kids play hookie one day so we can do fun things now and then. My second option with School C puts BOTH kids going three days a week. This means I would only have to drive to school three days! This might not be the best transition for Alex into kindergarten, but I might investigate this option.

With School M, I have Alex signed up for five days a week and Anna only two. So I kind of get gipped on both ends. I would like Anna in three days and Alex four. So I'm having to compromise on this. But I was really pleased by the school and the possiblity of sending Alex to kindergarten here was nice, too. There are only a few slots available so the decision could be made for me.

Journey to Preschool Admission: School T--Part 6

I made a visit to School T today. Before I even drove into the parking lot, I decided this was the final school to look out this year. I have grown weary of this process.

Basically because what I surmised, was indeed true. All the schools were the basically the same. The emphasis is on play. The teachers who were there, all wanted to be there and you could tell. The facilities were all nice--some had big classrooms and others had small ones.

While I decided not to go with School T since I'd already turned application fees into School C and School M, I thought it was only fair to take a look around for future reference.

This was an outstanding school! The classrooms were a good size and very bright and cheery. The teachers were very engaged even before we entered the classrooms. The coolest thing about this one is their open session during mid-morning. Students have an hour to move through several rooms focusing on art, music, math, science, play, etc. Each room has a teacher facilitating, leading or monitoring the project/activities. What I loved about this idea is that students had a chance to visit with other teachers and other students during the day. It gave the three-year olds the opportunity to mix with the fours and the fours a chance to be an example to the threes.

Unfortunately, the days don't match up with what I need, and, like I said, I now have more $200 invested in registration fees. So, while I am going to pass on School T, I would highly recommend it to other parents based on what I saw.

Summary to follow soon.


Giving Up Target for Lent

Recently there was discussion within my mom's group about budgets. We all admitted to spending more on certain things than we should. And a good number of us admitted to frequenting Target far more than was necessary. God, I love Target. I'm convinced this is every mom's Mecca. Where else can you get it all in one place? I mean, even their shoes, clothes and furniture now are now presentable enough to own.

Well, after some careful discerning, I have made a decision. This year, I'm giving up Target for Lent. I'm not sure how God feels about Target. But since today was the first time I've been to church since Christmastime, I'm guessing He's OK with the fact that I decided to participate in Lent this year. Somehow each year, I feel Lent is my opportunity to get back in touch with my own Catholic religion. Can you believe I used to teach Sunday school? Sad, isn't it. But I digress.

I made the obligatory visit to Target on Sunday. And made my trip to Ash Wednesday mass today. Farewell Target. I will see you soon at the end of March. Please promise not to get any cute things before then or have a great blowout sale.


Mom Politics

In honor of Super Tuesday (even though Virginia doesn't vote this week), I thought I would go out on a limb and talk politics — mom politics. No, this is not another work vs. stay at home mom or breast vs. bottle or any of the other top discussions at play dates. This is a topic has been on my mind quite a bit lately.

Can you tell another mom’s politics without talking politics?

My interaction with my mom friends is often limited--by time and munchkins. We greet each other at preschool drop off and pick up. We might get a few minutes to chat at the playground or if we’re lucky we’ll move beyond mom talk at a girl’s night out event. Rarely does it ever move to politics due to time and circumstance of wee ones springing about. Do we not discuss it because we don’t care? Quite the contrary, I believe we very much do care. Many times we just haven’t made our way into “that part” of the mommy friend relationship. Is it that we are so different in our politics that we can’t discuss? Absolutely not. We have heated debates on other relegated “mom topics” without it being an issue.

I started playing this game with myself for a few mom acquaintances. How quickly can I figure out their politics? Can you size up the Republican vs. Democrat moms by typical stereotypes? Are the conservatives driving the large SUVs and the liberals driving their small stationwagons? Do the Republicans send their children to the church-based preschools and the Democrats want nothing to do with religious teaching in a three-year old curriculum? Are the “granola” moms the ones with the homemade baked good, carrot sticks and hummus? Do the Republican moms let their kids play with toy guns? Is it the right-wing moms who send their kids to a million scheduled activities? Do the left-wing mammas wear their babies in a sling? Can you pick a politics by the strollers they drive or the diapers they use?

You will probably be very unsurprised by the fact that I didn't get very far with this research. You’ll find the most conservative moms making homemade baby food and liberal mammas driving giant SUVs. I don’t fit the typical stereotype for my own politics, and I wouldn’t assume other moms do either. I'm most definitely a mommy crossover.

The bottom line is that no matter what mom I talk to, they all seem to want similar things in the parenting world of politics:

Better healthcare system (one way or another) especially for kids,
Better pay for teachers and less testing efforts which distract from learning,
Cleaner air to breathe,
A safer world to live in,
Options for working after babies,
Safer toys for kids,
Perhaps a bit more maternity leave should we choose to work
The right and security to breastfeed wherever necessary to quiet our children,
AND a fabulous pair of maternity jeans.

As a small-SUV driving, organic feeding, all-terrain strollering, homemade baking, Pampers-using, baby wearing mom, who sends her kids to a church-based preschool and doesn’t allow TV in the house . . . can you guess my politics? Extra credit if you can.

Soon to be cross posted on DC Metro Moms.


Battle of the Strollers

I love strollers! While I was pregnant with my first child, I researched and test drove and researched some more on every stoller out there. I used to walk through baby stores and inspect them in great detail. But, alas, I am so sad that the "chosen stroller" now resides in the back of my car. My kids, I hate to say it, have outgrown the stroller.

But I ran across this review from New York Magazine on the top nine 'top of the line' strollers. (Sad my Mountain Buggy Urban didn't make the cut.) I'm all about the head-to-head competition for strollers. I keep hoping someone will launch a stroller magazine. Perhaps with a title like: Trail and Mall, Baby and Driver, Hit the Road, etc. Perhaps these aren't the best names.

But after reading this article, I will apologize to those I poo-pooed for investing in a Bugaboo. If I lived urban life, I would get one, too. Plus, it's just fun to say.

I'm just waiting for the next article which I hope will be about double strollers.


Petrol in Peace

On my way home this afternoon, I stopped off at a nearby Sunoco station in Tyson's Corner. I must have looked like a deer caught in headlights when I got out of the car. What is this? I hear noise and music and talking. I look around and it's a TV at the gas station. Are you serious?

What advertising company thought this would be a good idea? I worked in PR so I'm sure some overly paid agency came up with this 'smashing' idea to "keep consumers informed of the latest and greatest." Can I just say, this annoyed the hell out of me. I stop to pump some gas--a task which I hate anyway. But at least, I get a few moments of quiet. I stand there with the doors closed. My kids inside maybe singing, laughing, talking, screaming, crying, yelling. But for me, it's quiet. Sure, there's the smell of octane gas. But it's a peaceful moment for me. And I catch them when I can.

Today, my three minutes of quiet were interrupted with news, commercials and info on how to pump the gas. Seriously, is that what we've come to. We can't stop for a few minutes without noise. Between computers, cell phones, blackberries, Ipods, TVs--we're always surrounded by interruptions and endless chatter.

I think I need a little peace with my petrol.

Learning Chess

We've been watching the way Alex's mind works lately. He's a puzzle and math-minded little guy. Even after a conference call with his teacher about his progress this year, she confirmed that he is very much a math boy. Not sure how hubby and I will deal with that since we are both NOT math people.

Anyway, my husband thought, in light of all this, it was time to teach him the principles of chess. If only you'd seen the nerd fraternity he was in in college, you'd understand this.

So yesterday, the teaching and playing began. It took very little instruction other than showing him how the pieces move. Together they've been working out strategy over the past 24 hours. I hear talking of rooks and bishops, thinking oh what a fun project for dad and son to do.

Can I tell you how surprised I was when I heard Alex say "check" today? Turns out they were just working through a play together. I mean, he's barely four.

Journey to Preschool Admission: School M--Part 5

I attended the open house for School M. This was a tough decision for me. It's a Catholic preschool/kindergarten that filters into a Catholic elementary and middle school. At first glance the facility didn't seem much beyond the other schools. I talked to the teachers about the curriculum and certain needs I thought my son would need. What I loved was the flow of the four classrooms. The 3s room had a door that flowed into the 4s and the 4s into the kindergarten class. They said there would be some mixing of the classes at time. The classrooms were clean and new looking, but not so stiff as other schools. The classrooms were large with their own bathrooms and sinks for each room. And bonus, each class had several computers.

Now if you're not religious, than the religious aspect might get you. The kids are buddied with a 4th grader each month for mass attendance. Hey, if I can get my kids to sit through mass, bonus for me!

The price was actually in our price range as well.

The only downside are the days. I was set on having Alex go only four days a week and Anna going three. This would ensure I had three mornings to write and do errands. (I do have this book to write, you know.) But with this program, Alex would go five days and Anna only two. So I have mixed feelings on that one. I am being selfish and wanting him home the one day so we can do stuff together before he starts kindergarten the following year.

So the final verdict for today is my application for both kids is completed and deposit check is ready to go. The principal makes the selection at the end of the week.


Journey to Preschool Admission: School L--Part 4

I considered turning in an application at School L for the THIRD year in a row. But I am so put off by the attitude of their waitlist and lottery system that I decided not to even bother this year.

Since returning students and alumni have priority, as they should and as most schools do, our chances of getting a slot for both kids are slim. Last year, all the slots were filled with returning kids and they lotteried for the wait list order! My kids were numbers 12 and 19 on the waitlists.

If one kid gets in and the other doesn't, I lose the application fees. I need both kids in the same school in order for this whole preschool thing to work. The open slots they do have are probably the most sought after in town. But once you're in....you're in.

While I hear wonderful things about the school and really like the facility, I'm not sure it's worth all the fuss and clamoring to get in. So that's a no from me on School L.