Saturday, September 30, 2006



"Blue Canary in the outlet by the lightswitch
Who watches over you
Make a little birdhouse in your soul.”

If these lyrics sound familiar to you, than you are likely
to enjoy this week’s music pick. In
recent years, the pop/nerd rock band, “They Might Be Giants” has taken a
different direction. Some (myself
included) would argue that they have sold-out, to some degree, to Disney but I
really don’t care. Their music hasn’t
changed, just the audience. “They Might
Be Giants” released their first children’s CD in 2002 with Rounder Records
called simply, “No.”

“No” features 17 songs executed in true TMBG fashion with
super silly lyrics sung in a nasally, sometimes monotonous, voice. The first time my son heard the song, “Robot
Parade,” he sang it incessantly. The
songs are very catchy and easy to learn. They offer no patronizing life lessons, just ridiculous lyrics and
catchy beats. For some mindless,
enjoyable fun in the car or the kitchen, “No” is the perfect choice.

Friday, September 29, 2006


After my son’s room wrecker incident, I decided that I
needed to make some changes in my disciplinary tactics. One tool that I rarely use is positive
reinforcement. I realize that positive
reinforcement is an extremely effective tool but it takes thought and
preparation, neither of which is my strong suit. If I have trouble getting my son dressed in the morning, I
threaten him with a time out. Instead
of encouraging him to eat, I threaten him with the loss of something: dessert,
a game, or some one-on-one play time. These tactics are rarely effective and they usually just end up making
me look bad because he always ends up getting the dessert, game, or play
time. He eats eventually. It just takes an absurd amount of coaxing.

Most parents, when faced with a frustrating situation, tend
to instinctually threaten. That’s just
how we operate. I cannot count how many
times that I have threatened my child within an inch of his life because as I
try to get everyone out the door, he strolls slowly towards the car,
checks out the flowers, and talks incessantly about how much the plants have
grown. I find myself saying over and
over again, in a voice that is just louder than his, “Get in the car. Get in the car. Get in the car. Get in
the car.”  This is a little technique
that I use to hypnotize myself ever so slightly so that I don’t lose my
mind. It is very effective for me, not
so much for my son. He actually wants
to take time to smell the roses. I will
not allow that nonsense. We must get to
the play date by 11:00 so that I don’t miss anything. If we are late, I’ll probably get stuck at a table with someone I
don’t know. It would be unfortunate if
I actually have to make an effort in a conversation.

In an effort to change my ineffective ways, I have gone
Supernanny. I created a reward chart
for my son and have made an agreement with myself that when I need to get him
to do something (as opposed to getting him to stop doing
something), I will use the reward system instead of threatening him. The reward chart resembles a bar graph and,
at the top of each bar is a picture of a reward. He can earn tickets to make his way to the top of each bar. The bars get taller as he earns more tickets
and, thus, the prizes get better. The
first prize, for example, is a cup of chocolate milk. The final prize is a trip for the whole family to Chuck E.
Cheese. It has gone really well so
far. In the mornings, when I want him
to get dressed (an activity he always resists), I lay out his clothes and set
the egg timer for 6 minutes. If he gets
fully dressed before the timer goes off, he earns a ticket. The same system works for bedtime when he
changes into his pajamas and dinnertime.

It did backfire on me initially. The first couple of times he dilly-dallied and did not get
dressed before the timer went off. As
soon as he heard the buzzer go off, he freaked. I ended up having to put the kid in time-out because he refused
to stop screaming. This caused another
room wrecker incident and, on one occasion, actually resulted in his being late
for school. After these incidents,
though, he really caught on. He’s been
getting dressed quickly and without coaxing in the morning. Our family has been able to enjoy dinner
because we are not spending the entire time trying to come up with creative
ways to get our son to eat. And, most importantly, I have
been resorting to self-hypnosis with less and less frequency.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

A Sticker for Each Milestone

Now that my daughter is walking well, I am feeling a little
depressed. What other milestones do I
have to look forward to? Sure, she’ll
start talking soon enough and that will be great but talking is a gradual
process. There is really nothing else,
other than potty training, that is an immediate accomplishment. 

I waited with bated breath for my daughter to take her first
step for months. I worried that she was
developmentally delayed or had some type of neuromuscular disorder. I called my doctor and asked whether I
should be concerned. He gave me immense
comfort when he said, “we don’t really worry about that until they are 15
months old.” 15 months came and went
and still, she would not walk. My
torment increased. Finally, last week,
she decided to walk. She took her first
step with sturdy deliberateness. This
week she is walking everywhere. She has
reached the pinnacle of the evolutionary chart and decided that walking upright
is her preferred mode of transportation. 

As I pondered my daughter’s newfound ability and her
graduation from major baby milestones, I realized that I had never documented
her first step. After all of that
waiting and worrying, I did not even write down the date that she started
walking. What an inadequate parent I am. How could I have forgotten to do that? 

My reputation for
keeping track of baby milestones is less than stellar. Both of my children’s baby books are a
barren landscape of unanswered questions. 

“What was your baby’s
first word?” I think it was “Mama”

“When did your baby
blow her first kiss?” Blank

And my personal
favorite, “Fill in the chart of your baby’s teeth with the date that he/she got
each one.” Are you kidding?

I was so thrilled when
I discovered a new kind of baby book for my daughter. It is in the form of a simple calendar and comes with stickers
for each milestone. Score! Finally, a true product of the proclivity of
generation X. You don’t actually have
to write anything. You just find the
sticker that matches your milestone and place it on the appropriate date. Genius! Unfortunately, the calendar was not made for late walkers. I guess the sense of entitlement that we
(gen-Xers) so infamously possess has seeped into our product development. We just assume that all children will fit
into the same mold and have every milestone marked off within 13 months. So, alas, my daughter’s first step will not
be documented with a sticker. What a
tragedy. I’ll actually have to write it

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Scaling Mount Everest

I get invited to at least one direct marketing party a
month, usually two or three. These
parties are quite prevalent in the stay-at-home-mom demographic. I know upwards of ten people who sell
products via home parties. There’s a
nearly endless supply of over-priced products that you can purchase via a
clipboard  while sitting comfortably on your girlfriend’s couch. Here’s how it works:

1) You receive an invitation by mail for the party 2-3 weeks in

2) You receive an email from the hostess that is sent to multiple
recipients reminding you of the party

3) You call your friends to see who is going. You certainly don’t want to miss anything by
being absent

4) You RSVP (most people don’t these days)

5) A couple of days before the party you get another email
reminder with some sort of incentive if you bring a friend

6) No one ever brings a friend

7) You leave your family right at dinnertime to attend a party

8) You grab a plate and have some chips and dip and a drink

9) About 10 minutes in, the hostess asks everyone to gather in
the living room and passes out the catalog and the clipboard

10) You watch a demonstration and are mesmerized by all of the
products. You become acutely aware of
how much you need a paring knife that costs $12 or a jar of moisturizer
that costs $33.

11) You fill out your order form, justifying your overspending
based on your insatiable need to fit in with everyone else. You feel guilty, after all, if you leave the
party without buying anything. What will
the hostess think of you? Will you ever
be invited back?

12) You contemplate having a party yourself. Think about all of the free stuff you’ll
get! You decide against it because it
makes you a little uncomfortable.

13) You spend $50 that could have gone towards food for your
family. You wait two weeks and,
finally, the day arrives that you receive your products.

14) You try out your paring knife. It works REALLY well. How
did you ever get along without it?

15) You try out your moisturizer. Wow. Your face is really soft
and it smells like an orange creamsicle. That was $33 well spent.

16) You vow never to go to another party.

17) You receive an invitation by mail for the party 2-3 weeks in

I have attended many, many home parties and this is how it
always goes. Only once have I actually
had the will power to leave the party without making a purchase. When I did, I felt as if I had scaled Mount
Everest. What an accomplishment!

The home party is an innovative sales method because it
exploits most women’s desperate need to fit in. I try to limit the number of parties I go to because I always
spend more than I should and I never really need the products. I know there is no end in sight for these
parties because they provide a convenient means by which stay-at-home-Moms can
make money without having to adjust their schedules. I do not stand in judgment of the women who choose direct
marketing as an alternative to working part-time. I actually know a few women who have been quite successful. I just think we need to be honest about how
these home parties operate. The whole
process is a little ethically questionable. I hope this will not deter people from attending the party I have
scheduled in November. I'm anticipating a
big crowd so I get lots of free stuff!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Baby Unibrows

I am a compulsive picture sharer. I catch my daughter in an adorable pose and have an urgent need
to share it with everyone I know. I
open up my “Contacts” and click about 25 names. I type a little message and send it along. I get a few responses, some one word, and
some a short paragraph, but most of the recipients never respond. This does not disappoint me so, evidently,
my compulsion to share photos has nothing to do with receiving validation about
cuteness of my kids.  I need no validation.

I look at my daughter sometimes and get a little weak in the
knees when she makes an adorable face. I cannot help myself. I think
she is, hands down, the most precious child ever to walk the face of the
earth. Do other Mothers get weak in the
knees when they look at their children? What about the unsightly children? Do their Moms know they are unattractive or does their unflinching love
and adoration blind them to the realities of the aesthetics of their
child? I have often pondered this
question but can think of no tactful way to gather evidence:

“I noticed that your son is conventionally
unattractive. How do you feel about his

“I love your daughter’s hair but she has a really homely
face. Do you think she is beautiful?”

I know that this is extremely superficial but one of my
greatest fears when I was pregnant with both my children was that I would have
an ugly baby. How would I feel if the
baby they placed in my arms looked up at me with the face only a Mother could love? Would I even notice? What about the little baby girl who shared
the nursery with my son after he was born? She had a unibrow that would give Bert from Sesame Street a run for his
money. Did she gaze at her new daughter
with awe and adoration or did she run right out to Walgreens for a home waxing

Monday, September 25, 2006

Pageant Mom Panties

I spent the majority of the day on Sunday working on my
son’s Halloween costume. I’ve gone old
school this year, actually making a costume from scratch. I realize that it is only September and that
there is still quite a bit of time left to find the perfect costume but I have
done exhaustive searches both online and in stores. I cannot find a decent cowboy costume for under $30 that doesn’t
look like it was constructed using a garbage bag. 

Halloween is no longer just a stroll down the sidewalk to
ring a few doorbells and return home. It is a weeklong event. Finding
the perfect costume is imperative because your child’s costume is a direct
reflection of your creative ability and style. Your children may not actually enter any costume competitions but there
will be judges on hand at all times in the form of other Moms. 

I will be one of those other Moms. I may run into you at “Boo at the Zoo” and tell you how cute your
daughter looks in her princess costume but secretly I’ll be thinking, “Thank
goodness she didn’t have the same costume as my daughter.” I may see you at the Children’s Museum
Monster Bash and ask you if you made your son’s pirate costume. I’ll privately hope that you tell me “no” so
that I can up the ante and regale you with stories about picking the perfect
pattern, fabric, etc… for my son’s cowboy costume. You will look at my son’s costume and marvel at my ability as a
seamstress. Next year, you’ll make your
own. You have no choice now. 

Keeping up with the Joneses has infiltrated our
holidays. We can’t just run to Wal-Mart
and spend $9.99 on a Spiderman costume like our parents did when we were
kids. There is too much at stake now. We’ve got to find something that will
impress our friends and show off our skills as a mother, seamstress, and savvy
shopper. I’ve got a head start this
year. My kids’ costumes are ready and
I’ve got my pageant mom panties on. Bring
it on!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Singin' in the Bathtub

John Lithgow is perhaps best known for his role as Dr. Dick
Solomon in the popular TV series, Third Rock From the Sun or, my
personal favorite, the uptight Reverend Shaw Moore in Footloose. What most people do not know is that Mr.
Lithgow has a knack for creating wonderful, entertaining children’s music. Released in 1999 by Sony Wonder, Singin’
In the Bathtub
is a unique collection of fourteen fabulous kid tunes. 

The album features Broadway-style production, backed by an
orchestra, and all of the songs tell a story. My son is particularly fond of A- You’re Adorable, which features
a new twist on the standard ABC song and At the Codfish Ball, a
classic tale of an undersea soiree. The Hippopotamus Song is my personal favorite because, no matter
how many times I hear it, it always brings a smile to my face. If you are a fan of show tunes I highly
recommend this album. Your kids will
crack up at the wacky lyrics and you will find yourself humming the chorus to Singin’ in the Bathtub every time you run the water for a

Friday, September 22, 2006

Post Moronic Activity Disorder

My girlfriends and I had our “Hot Mamas” movie night last
night. One of my friends has a home
theater in her basement and we get together at her house one Thursday a month to socialize while we watch a good flick. We eat, chat and drink a little wine. Last night we added another activity to the mix: we TP’d a friend’s
house. Most of us live in the same
neighborhood so we grabbed a stash of toilet paper, crept stealthily out the
back door and down the road. We felt
like covert agents as we covered her trees, shrubs and mailbox with toilet
paper. We also did a little driveway
graffiti with the help of some readily available sidewalk chalk.

I am still astonished that I actually participated in this
activity. I kept having déjà vu as we
were walking surreptitiously in the dark. If I were wearing size four jeans and holding a Keystone Light and a lit
cigarette, I would have been in High School. We laughed hysterically the entire time. It ended in very appropriate fashion: my friend’s (the victim)
dog barked and we all took off running, screaming like schoolgirls.

Right now I am suffering from
post-moronic-activity-disorder, commonly known as PMAD. Did I really help TP someone’s house? Did I do this at the ripe old age of 31 with
the help of several other mothers of young children? What were we thinking? I
was 100% convinced last night that she deserved it. She did miss movie night after all and she wasn’t on her
deathbed (the only legitimate excuse). How did she feel when she walked out her door this morning to a scene
right out of the ninth grade? Is she
upset? Is she flabbergasted? And, most importantly, does she still love
me? Alyson, please forgive us. We are morons.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Will Walk 4 Food

Four months of worry came to a head yesterday when my
daughter finally decided to walk. I
plan on spending today obsessing about whether, in fact, she is walking. Maybe last night was a fluke. I postponed putting her to bed because I was
concerned that she would forget her new skill during the course of the
night. She has been awake for less than
an hour now and I’ve already made her work for her breakfast. She wouldn’t walk but she did stand
unassisted. She smiled at me and looked
longingly at the waffle so I gave in and handed it over.

I’m going to a friend’s house today. She has had a front row seat to my neurotic
Mother show. She knows, first hand, how
much energy I have wasted worrying about my daughter’s inability to walk. Together, we will make it happen.

I cannot wait to take my daughter to a playgroup so she can
show off her new skill to all of her little friends. Who’s laughing now, punks? It will be a sweet victory for me and she is bound to get some pleasure
out of it as well. My daughter will
take some steps today. If she doesn’t, she won’t eat. It’s that simple.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


My son has an intense fear of haircuts. Believe it or not, there is a term for this:
tonsurophobia. This will not be a
useful term for most but I plan on using it as often as possible, impressing my
friends and family with my extensive knowledge of obscure words.

I think it is parental negligence to let a little boy's hair get long.  As a result, my son’s
tonsurophobia is an especially difficult struggle for me. I insist that he get a haircut every few
months. I have tried several different
tactics. First, I thought I could bribe
him. I used his current currency of
choice: ice cream; and took him to my Mother’s hairdresser. She is the only hairdresser in the area that
I have found who is willing to cut the hair of a child who is being physically
restrained by his Mother. She’s a
diamond in the rough, that Rhonda! I
sat in the chair and let him sit in my lap. She started to work with the scissors first. He screamed, kicked, flailed, and cried. It was a very unpleasant experience for
everyone involved but I accomplished my goal. My son had short hair.

The next time a haircut was in order, I asked some friends for advice and was offered a simple
solution: someone else should take him. “He’s bound to behave better for someone other than his Mother.” Most of us know that this adage is usually
true but, in the case of my son, it was not. I asked my Father to take him to Rhonda’s for a cut. He did. The same scene took place. My Dad vowed never to take him again. I would have to change my tactic, but not
for another few months. My son’s hair
was short again and all was right with the world.

A few months later, my son's hair started getting a little unruly again.  I decided that, until his fear had dissipated, I would
cut it. I had watched Rhonda
fairly closely on both occasions and felt that I could mimic her technique with
some success. I knew that I could never
use the clippers on him but that I could keep his hair at bay using scissors
only. I decided to turn his favorite
movie on and bribe him with some gummy worms. Success! It was not an easy task but it worked. My son's hair was cut and he did not have any lasting emotional (or
physical) scars. 

It has been a few months since his last cut and my son's hair is starting to reach an unacceptable length.  A salon specifically for kids has recently opened in our area.  The kids sit in a jeep and watch cartoons while they get their hair cut.  It costs $15.00.  Should I try it?  Would the lure of a jeep and cartoons be enough to keep my son still for 15 minutes?  We own a Power Wheel and a TV so it would be relatively simple to create the very same atmosphere in my home for free.  The real question is:  do my friends snicker at my child's hair behind my back?  Does he get made fun of for his homemade haircuts on the playground?  Am I deluding myself into thinking that I am a capable hairdresser?  If so, I guess I'll cough up 15 bucks and take him in for a decent haircut.  I will not let tonsurophobia get the best of my child.  His hair WILL look good, regardless of the cost to his emotional well being.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Burn Book

I decided to take my kids to the park
this weekend to run off some steam and enjoy the beautiful Fall weather. About an hour into our park visit, my son
noticed two little girls playing in the playhouse. Not one to be shy, he immediately walked up to the entrance of
the house and asked to join them. I was
nearby and heard the entire conversation:

Son: “I like your house. Can I play with you?”

Girl #1: “No. This is our house. Me and Brianna are the only ones allowed in

Girl #2: “Yeah,
sorry you can’t play with us.”

Son: “Oh… Mommy! They won’t let me play with them!”

I was caught off guard and did not know what to say. Should I intervene and explain to the little
girls that this playhouse is for everyone to share? Should I just explain to my son that I cannot make them play with
him and try to divert his attention to another activity? Should I stay out of the situation and wait
to see how they handle it? Under
pressure, I decided to choose the middle route. I told my son that I could not force the girls to let him play
with them and that we should swing for a while and play in the playhouse
later. He was visibly upset by the
rejection. I felt for him but I realize
that rejection is an unfortunate part of life and it starts young, very

Is it possible to teach our children that exclusion hurts or
is it something that they have to learn through experience? The cruelty of girls in our culture today
has been a focal point of the media lately. Were these four-year-old girls well on their way to “mean girl”
status? They were, after all, really
cute in their pigtails and matching outfits. I bet they were hiding a “Burn Book” somewhere in that playhouse.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Easy Access

I just wanted to let everyone know that Another Gray Hair can now be accessed at the following address:

I found an awesome deal on domain registration and decided that I would snatch it up.  $1.99 for a year!  I couldn't pass it up.  Just my latest in a series of ploys to take over the world.  Mwaaahh ha ha.

The Pigpen Award

nickname, in the third grade, was “Pigpen.” My friend, Heather, will verify this. Our teacher gave away the “Pigpen Award” each week and, invariably, I
was the lucky recipient. My desk was a
mess. The floor around my desk was a
mess and organization was not a term that I was familiar with. Midway into my third-grade year a new kid
moved to town. He was in my class and,
by some miracle, he was messier than I was. The week that he started school was when my consistent reign as the
class dump came to an end. What a
tragic day in my young life.

my history, it should be no surprise that my home is not a well-oiled
machine. It is a slightly dilapidated
older-model that smells like Febreeze. I struggle with keeping my house clean because I am someone who values
cleanliness but I am also inherently lazy. I would rather watch TV than vacuum my floor but I cannot stand to see
it dirty. Looking at a dingy sink
repulses me but I would rather read a good book than whip out my trusty Comet
and get to work. I’m surprised that
this inner battle has not morphed into some type of mental disorder.

I probably shouldn’t be so hard on myself. My
Mother is consistently amazed by “how far I’ve come.” I’ve enlisted some help
along the way in the form of Marla Cilley, commonly known as “The Flylady.” She has developed a house cleaning system specifically for former
Pigpens like myself.  Her system works extremely well and I have managed
to stick to it on some level with a reasonable amount of consistency. I still have days when I pick up my daughter
and her knees are black from crawling on my kitchen floor but those days are
few and far between. On the occasions
that I do fall off of the cleaning wagon, I think of my third grade teacher and
how proud she would be that my legacy still lives on. The Pigpen inside of me is alive and well.


Sunday, September 17, 2006

At the Bottom of the Sea

Every morning my kids and I go through the usual
motions that are required to begin our day. We eat. We get dressed. We brush our teeth and wash our hands. These may seem like relatively simple
activities but, as any parent knows, they can be the most frustrating and difficult
tasks to accomplish. In order to amp up our mornings a little bit, I usually
put our favorite CD in the stereo.

Topping our family’s chart these days is Ralph’s
World’s At the Bottom of the Sea. Released in 2002 by Waterdog Records, At the Bottom of the Sea is
filled with catchy tunes that make both myself and my children want to get up
and dance. My son’s favorite track is Honey
for the Bears
, which features a high-energy chorus and lyrics that tell a
story about a boy running for his life from a swarm of bees. This always brings a smile to my son’s face
(and mine too). My favorite track is The
Coffee Song.
  It appeals to Moms
and Dads everywhere with it’s thought-provoking lyrics: “M-O-M-M-Y needs
C-O-F-F-E-E. D-A-D-D-Y needs
C-O-F-F-E-E.” This song does more to
boost my spirits than any amount of caffeine ever could. The album is full of great tracks that will
make your feet tap on even the gloomiest days.  Ralph Covert and his band have managed to create a delightful
album that appeals as much to parents as it does to children. I highly recommend it for children of all

Rockin' Out on the Weekends

I’ve decided to take the weekends off from the creative
energy that it takes to keep up with Another Gray Hair. Instead of writing about my life, I’m going to devote one entry per weekend to another one of my passions: good kid’s
music. I’m not talking about music that
your kids love and you tolerate but actual good, quality music that you will
enjoy as much as your children. I will
highlight one album each week.

If you have
any suggestions for rockin’ kid’s music, please email them to me. I am always looking for new stuff and, if
both my kids and I like it, I may include it the weekend edition of Another
Gray Hair

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Renting a Dinosaur

My son has a very vivid imagination. This is something that I should be thankful
for but his constant, elaborate scenarios can get exhausting. For example, on Mondays, Wednesdays and
Fridays, we leave the house at 7:40 am to take my son to school. On these days, the pretending begins before
I even back out of the driveway. It
goes something like this:

Son: “Mommy, do
you want to pretend something.”

Me: “Why don’t we
listen to some music.”

Son: “I don’t want
to listen to music. I want you to play
with me.”

Me: “OK. What do you want to play?”

Son: “I’ll be the
museum man and you and Sissy are the people that come to the
       museum. Now you say, ‘Museum man, is the museum open

Me: “Museum man,
is the museum open yet?”

Son:  In a
distorted voice that is meant to sound museum man-ish, “Yes. Come on in.
        What kind
of dinosaur would you like to rent?”

Me: “I don’t need
to rent a dinosaur. I’ll just look at

Son: “But this is
a dinosaur-renting place.”

He always feeds me my dialogue. This makes the entire discourse extra fun. I usually just go along with whatever he
says but sometimes I create my own dialogue. This rarely goes over well. I
usually end up arguing with him for a few minutes and then giving up and
saying, “I wish my friend would come” or whatever lame phrase he feeds to me.  My husband and I have started calling him, “the
Dictator.” We have friends who call
their son (who has the same affliction), “the Mayor.” I guess the latter is a little more kind but, alas, it’s already

Whenever we are at home and my son asks me to play with him,
I am either too busy and rattle off an excuse or I make other suggestions. “Why don’t we play outside” “Do you want to play a game instead?” “How about we listen to some music and
dance?” He rarely agrees to my
suggestions. “Playing pretend” is, by
far, his favorite activity. He becomes
full of himself and animated on the rare occasions that I begrudgingly agree to
play with him.

Why is it so difficult for me to muster up any enthusiasm
for pretend play with my son? I know,
all too well, how quickly time passes. I realize that the day will soon come when he has no interest in playing
with me at all and I will look upon these play sessions with longing and
nostalgia. So, why can’t I just forget
about all of the other things I need to do and throw myself into the
dialogue?  Renting a dinosaur, after all, is a serious commitment.  I should not take that choice lightly.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Most Popular Nut

Last night I was watching the TV and a commercial came on
that featured someone harvesting almonds. I looked at my husband and, in all seriousness, said, “Almonds grow on
trees?” He looked at me like I had just
asked if hamburger came from cows. 

I honestly had no idea. I just assumed that peanuts, being the most popular nut, set the
precedent for all nuts. The fact that
we have hickory nuts strewn all over our lawn from the tree above did not even
register on my radar. I assumed that
all nuts grew under the soil. Upon
further research I discovered that peanuts are, in fact, not a nut at all, but
a legume. Who knew? 

Making this discovery reminded me of just how far removed I
am from the origin of the food that I eat. If I were to glean my knowledge from experience only, I would assume
that beef came from a grocery store, neatly wrapped in cellophane; chicken
comes in the form of an abnormally large frozen breast with a lovely ice glaze;
and milk comes from a carton that is specially tinted to preserve
freshness. This is just the tip of the
iceberg. Even some of my fresh
vegetables come in a bag, pre-washed, so that I don’t have to go through the
trouble of rinsing them. Cookies and
treats are not something I have to make because Little Debbie and those Keebler
Elves make them for me and I’m so grateful to Uncle Ben for inventing rice.

How does this impact my life? It really doesn’t on any discernable level. It does, however, contribute to my sense of
entitlement and, in turn, my children’s. If I don’t make the connection between hamburgers and cows, vegetables
and farmers, and cookies and factory workers then I don’t ever have to worry
about how the cows are treated and slaughtered, whether or not the chickens
ever see the light of day, or whether or not a farmer can afford to keep his
land. I can just go about my business
and enjoy my 5 Minute Rice, Bagged Spinach, and Zebra Cakes. Yum!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Hotness Scale

I have this quote taped to my refrigerator:

A mother who radiates self-love and acceptance actually
vaccinates her daughter against low self-esteem.
Naomi Wolf

As someone who has struggled her entire life with food and
body image issues, I plan on taking every step necessary to make sure that my
daughter does not follow in my footsteps. It is a very fine line that I walk, though, because obsessing about it
all of the time does not bode well for my daughter’s emotional well-being.

Self-esteem should probably not be at the forefront of the
parenting philosophy for a sixteen-month-old baby. So, why am I so focused on it? I guess it is because my issues have had such a significant impact on my
quality of life. Ever since I was 12
years old, I have been on some sort of diet. I was at a party recently to celebrate a friend from childhood’s
wedding. We were reminiscing and she
told me that she vividly remembers a sudden weight loss I experienced in the
eighth grade. Apparently, I confided in
her that it was the “best diet ever.” I
ate a cup of Chex Mix everyday. Oh, and
an apple I think. That was it. Do I want my daughter to reach that
point? Absolutely not. I cringe when I think about it.

I have come a long way towards self-acceptance but I still have a long way to go.  For example, when am I going to stop doing an instant breakdown of where I stand on the hotness scale compared to the other women when I walk into a room?  Conquering this demon would definitely be a step in the right direction.  I have, after all, been happily married for ten years and have zero desire to roam.  Plus, my numbers on the hotness scale haven't been at an acceptable level since my college days!  So, who am I trying to impress?  How can I make sure that my daughter is not afflicted with the same superficial flaws that pervade my day-to-day existence?  I don't know why I keep asking these questions.  I already know the answer.  Naomi Wolf tells me every time I open the refrigerator. 


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Goody Bags

My son’s fourth birthday is in late November. It is early September and I have already
started planning it. It is amazing how
many choices that I have to make when planning a birthday party for someone who
cannot even spell the word “cake” yet. What venue should I book? Who
should I order the cake from? Who
should I invite? Do I serve a meal or
just hors d’oevres? What should I use
for decorations? What will be the theme
of the party?

It is absurd that I am putting this much effort into a
birthday party that my son will not even remember. I’ll take pictures, mind you, and later in his life I’ll show him
those pictures and say, “See? See how
much trouble I went to? Aren’t I a good

People will come to the party and bring gifts for my son. The attendance will be a true testament to
how popular I am. I will prepare a
goody bag worthy of the Academy Awards so that everyone goes home wondering how
I was able to pull it all together. This birthday party will, after all, be all about me.

Honestly, spending $250 on a party is not something I should
be doing. I would prefer to have my family and a couple of close friends over
for some homemade cake and conversation but can I really do that? Would it be fair to my son? He attends at least one birthday party each
month in which swarms of children gather around a $50 cake and sing “Happy
Birthday” in sync until they get to the child’s name. They NEVER know whose birthday it is. All they care about is the cake and the goody bag. The rest is meaningless to them.

Unfortunately, it is not meaningless to me. I will throw this party. I will pick the perfect venue. I will invite everyone I know. I will order a cake worthy of Suri Cruise’s
first birthday and I will spend entirely too much time and money creating the
perfect goody bag. My friends and
family will walk away from the party with great admiration for my skills as a
party planner and Mother. $250.00 seems
like a bargain for that.

Don’t worry. I
haven’t forgotten my son. I really hope
he has a good time.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Room Wrecker

My son has always been fairly well behaved and sweet. He sailed through his third year commonly
known as “the terrible two’s” with nary a tantrum to be found. I braced myself for the worst when I brought
my daughter home from the hospital.  He
was 2 and a half and very comfortable being the center of attention. He surprised us all with his immediate love
for his sister and lack of any sign of sibling rivalry. I was filled with pride and
self-satisfaction knowing that I had successfully bypassed “the terrible

Shortly after my son’s third birthday things began to
change. He started to throw tantrums
when he did not get what he wanted, complete with jumping up and down and
screaming. I was shocked. It was as if turning three had flipped a
switch in his head. We are now ten
months into his fourth year and I am hoping to get off of this behavior roller
coaster soon. I’m tired, nauseous and
sweaty and I've been strapped in this seat for entirely too long.

This past week, we hit G-force for the first time when we
discovered that our son is a room-wrecker. We generally send him to his room for a 3-minute time-out and close the
door. For a very long time, he would
obediently walk to his room and shut the door when he received a time-out. That has all changed. Lately, we have been forced to drag him to his room
kicking and screaming. He kicks, bites,
hits, yells, and behaves as if we are sentencing him to life without chocolate
milk. We have to put him in his room,
shut the door and hold it shut (there is no lock on the outside). His time-out does not start until he can
calm himself down. This can take a VERY
long time.

Yesterday he was put in time-out four times for minor
offenses. Each time, the same chain of
events occurred with one shocking addition. When we would put him into his room, he started throwing things. He threw all of the books off of his shelf
(we have hundreds). He threw his
trashcan against the door over and over again. He picked up his quilt rack and threw it against the door. He got his father’s belt, which was hanging
on the door, down and started swinging it around and around so that the metal
buckle hit the door continuously. I was
on the outside of the door the entire time crying and wondering what had
happened. When did my son become so
violent? What had I done to contribute

I ran upstairs and grabbed my favorite discipline manual, 1-2-3
by Thomas W. Phelan, Ph. D., and scanned through the table of contents
to see if I could find some words of wisdom. I did. There is an entire
section devoted to room wreckers. Phew. I found great comfort in knowing that I was
not alone.

I am putting Dr. Phelan’s plan into effect and bracing
myself for some commando parenting. It
will be a difficult week but it will be worthwhile. My son is a wonderful little boy and I will not let him spiral
out of control. He deserves more than

Monday, September 11, 2006

Tourette's Syndrome and Other Minor Problems

I met and fell and love with a man with tics, lots and lots of tics.
He comes from a long, proud line of men with tics.  I guess I should not
be surprised that my son seems to have developed a tic at the ripe old age of
(almost) 4.

A few weeks ago my son started coughing in a very deliberate way.  He
stops what he's doing, puts his hand over his mouth and coughs twice in quick
succession.  He does this at least twice a minute.  I have watched
him closely to see if there is any pattern to his coughing.  There
is.  It definitely increases when he is nervous or frustrated and it
completely disappears when he is watching TV, sleeping, or concentrating very
hard on something. 

My current dilemma is, what do I do about it?  Do I ignore the
problem?  I've tried jokingly asking him to stop coughing and he tells me
he can't.  Do I take him to the doctor?  I heard once that nicotine
helps curb the symptoms of Tourette's Syndrome.  Should I buy my son a
pack of camels or some nicotine gum?   I'm at a loss.

I think it is time to call in reinforcements in the form of my
husband.  He did, after all, diagnose himself with Tourette's years ago
and stands by that diagnosis to this day.  Surely he has some
insight.  It is probably in my best interest to stop focusing on the
coughing and focus on the wonderful qualities that I love about my son.
He does, after all, have the good manners to cover his mouth when he coughs.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Make Way for Crazy Mamas

Last night I went to my first consignment sale. I decided to volunteer to
work at the sale so that I could attend the pre-pre-sale for volunteers
only.  There were only 65 volunteers as opposed to 825 consignors so as
far as crowds go, I had it made in the shade.  My friends told me to come
prepared for battle.  So, armed with my laundry basket, cell phone, and a
blank check; I got in line at 6:10 for a 6:30 sale.  I was disappointed to
discover that there were about 25 people ahead of me. 

At 6:25, they let us walk in the space.  We had to listen to a little
spiel and then we were let loose upon the mountains of merchandise.  I
walked calmly in an indirect route to avoid the mad rush.  While perusing the
clothing racks, I met one woman who was trampled by two shoppers that were
gunning for a dollhouse.  I later stood in line next to the victorious
shopper who managed to get the illustrious dollhouse.  She was sweet and
mild-mannered.  I'm sure she had no idea that I knew her dirty

I came home after 1 hour of driving, 2 hours of shopping and 1 hour of
waiting in line with 2 Christmas presents for my daughter, 10 outfits (all name
brands that I cannot afford new) and a very nice winter coat for my son.
This came at a cost of $130.00.  Was it worth it?  I guess it depends
on your priorities.  If your priorities are, like mine, to purchase used,
brand-name clothing at a discount price for your children so that everyone
thinks you have more money than you do, then mission accomplished.
Woo hoo!  I can't wait for the next sale.

Saturday, September 9, 2006

Keeping up with Baby Jones

My little girl is an only child this weekend.  I shipped my son off to
stay with his grandparents and, since her mind is not developed enough to
remember anything yet, I've decided to spend my weekend drinking straight vodka
and walking around the house naked.  Aaaahhh, sweet freedom. 

All kidding aside, my daughter is sixteen months old.  She's doing all
of the things that a sixteen-month-old should do except one: walking.  The
little stinker will not walk.  She tears around the house behind her
walker and maneuvers it with the precision of a Nascar driver but the instant
she lets go of the handle, her butt is on the ground.  It is very
frustrating for me but she could care less.  She does not want to walk

Several of the babies that were born after my daughter within my circle of
friends have started walking already.  We go to a playgroup and they all
run by her, laughing at her while she crawls.  Most of my friends' babies
are pretty vindictive little things.  Invariably my daughter's inability
(or lack of desire) to walk becomes a topic of conversation.  I
immediately point out all of the things that she is doing in the hopes
of outdoing their children in other ways.  "She says a new word
everyday.  Tonight, when I laid her down for bed, she said, 'night night'
as clear as day."  I get smiles, nods, and ooohs and aaahs but I know
what they are really thinking.  They think that my daughter must be
developmentally delayed because she isn't walking yet.  They would be
worried if they were her parents.  Occasionally, I will come across
someone whose child walked at 17 or 18 months.  When I do, I leach onto
them immediately and mentally document every detail of their child's
developmental process.  This, for some reason, is immensely comforting.

Why do we worry so much about keeping up with the Joneses?  This worry
has, for me, extended into my baby's development.  Maybe I should hire a
"walking coach."  Or perhaps some Kindermusik will solve her
problem.  Have I not been stimulating her enough?  If only I could
throw some money at the situation, surely it would improve.

I just need to face facts: my daughter will walk when she is good and
ready.  Did I mention she says a new word every day?

ADDENDUM:  I was talking to my cousin today and she said, "no
wonder your daughter isn't walking.  You keep her in a walker all of the
time."  I realized that when most people hear the word
"walker" they think of a contraption that you put your baby in and
let him/her use their legs to move around the house.  I was referring to a
push toy that has a handle that my daughter uses to balance as she walks around
the house.  BIG difference.

Friday, September 8, 2006

Does Spanking Release Endorphins?

Why is it that every mainstream "expert" opposes spanking but
every Mother that I know practices it?  We are a generation that earnestly
listens to the advice of the Supernanny and Dr. Phil but we still spank our
kids.  Are we throwing temper tantrums when we do this?  Have we lost
our cool?  Does spanking release endorphins?  I think the answer to
all three of these questions is unequivocally, "yes."  I have
found myself resorting to spanking when I feel as if I have no other
options.   My son pushes my buttons.  My blood pressure rises.
My reasonable, calm self is replaced by an irrational, angry creature that
cannot articulate a coherent sentence, let alone effectively discipline a

Spanking is never an effective discipline tool for my son.  I have seen
the results time and time again.  My son gets frightened and, thus, more
angry and difficult to control.  I know that it does not work but I still
continue to do it.  Why?  The only reasonable explanation is that I
spank my child to make myself feel better.  It appears that I am the one
lacking self-control.  My son is just reacting to the situation.  I
am creating it. 

My favorite aspect of parenthood is, by far, the guilt.  As a Mother, I
have quite a bloated ego when it comes to the impact that my behavior will have
on my child.  In my mind, my son is well on his way to being a serial
killer because I spanked him a few times.  Oh well, surely Ted Bundy's
mother loved him anyway, right?

FYI:  I am aware that my blanket statement about mainstream experts is not
entirely accurate.  I realize this is a controversial subject and I am
just expressing my personal views.

Stale Crackers

I just had stale crackers with almond butter for
breakfast.  YUM!  Running out of bread is not a good thing.  My
son is eating a graham cracker/peanut butter sandwich with an apple.  I
have to get him to school by 8:00 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays so we are
always under a major time crunch.  My current dilemma: how to get him to
take a bite of his cracker sandwich instead of using his unusually long tongue
(he can actually put his tongue inside of his nostril) to lick the peanut
butter out from between the crackers.  He can pretty much lick the entire
thing clean without ever pulling the crackers apart.  I guess I should support
his talent and mold him so that he can use it in adulthood.  How many
people do you know that can eat all of the ice cream out of an ice cream cone
without ever disturbing the cone? 

Thursday, September 7, 2006

Why Another Gray Hair?

I chose the name "Another Gray Hair" for my blog because that is,
essentially, the theme of my life.  For example, today I was in Target
heading towards the checkout line and my son (4) was standing on the metal bar
at the front of the shopping cart, holding onto the basket for dear life.
This is not my favorite shopping cart arrangement but, with two kids, you do
what you can.  About 20 feet from the checkout, my son asked if he could
get inside the shopping basket insisting that he was tired (this was absurd as
30 seconds earlier he was running up and down the aisle of the shoe department
like a ferret on crack).  Sometimes I do things based on reason and logic
and sometimes I do them based on pointless, stubborn principal.  This time
I chose the latter when I told him that he could not sit in the shopping cart basket.
He continued to ask about six more times consecutively, to which I responded
with a curt "no."  I told him to stop asking or else ("or
else" meaning consequences I had yet to determine).  He started
screaming at the top of his lungs in a violent, raging voice a stream of
incoherent words while simultaneously kicking the cart and grunting in a Monica
Seles-esque way.  I threw my items at my Mother, walked out of the store
with both kids, and made my son stand against the outer brick wall of Target while
thinking about what he had done.  Impromptu time-outs have become a way of
life for me.  By the time it was all said and done, he had lost two of his
toys to the "poor kids" (our term for Goodwill.  I must give
props to my friend Jacquelyn for this one.  She uses it in her house
too.  It's not exactly PC but it is effective for toddlers) and I grew another
gray hair

Master of the Obvious

Today I created a blog.  I was inspired by an acquaintance from my hometown who operates a political blog that has a readership of over 1000 people.  I read her blog and was extremely impressed with her ability to convey humor and pertinent information in her writing. 

My goal is to be a successful freelance writer.  Having a blog will afford me the opportunity to write on a fairly consistent basis.   I'm a little rusty as it has been nearly ten years (gulp) since I graduated from college.  Here goes nothing...