Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Civil Disobedience

Why is it that when you become a parent, restaurants that
were once considered absolutely out of the question for even a snack become our
regular dinner spots? I have gotten
into the habit of taking my kids to McDonalds every Wednesday after
school. Both my son and daughter love
the playground, which is indoors so it is a perfect winter hangout, and my son
really looks forward to this ritual. Five years ago I could count on one hand the number of times I visited
McDonalds in a year. These days, I’m
just praying that the number is less than fifty. 

If I really sit and ponder this a little while, it
absolutely blows my mind. I read “Fast
Food Nation
” before my son was born and was appalled by what I learned. I watched “Super Size Me” and was repulsed
by what became of Morgan Spurlock during his 30-day experiment in American
excess via the McDonald’s Drive Thru. I
consider myself to be a relatively savvy, well-meaning consumer and yet I take
my children to McDonald’s once a week. We order our Happy Meals and I watch my children devour deep-fried
chicken nuggets and French fries along with perfectly preserved “fresh” apple
slices (what do they put on those apples?) and chocolate milk. I try to order one of their surprisingly
tasty and fresh salads for myself but wait with baited breath for my children
to run off and play so that I can scavenge their leftovers. Despite my loathing of the establishment, I
love me some chicken nuggets and fries. They are magically delicious.

I already know why I go to McDonald’s. It’s no secret. I go because it’s all about convenience and instant
gratification. You order your food and
it is ready within five minutes (most days). You sit in a room with a bunch of other parents and kids, surrounded by
plastic play equipment. You eat and
then your kids leave and play, REALLY play, while you get some peace and
quiet. It’s a little bit of serenity
for my Wednesday afternoon. I’m not
sure that Thoreau would approve of my store bought serenity but, hey, it works
for me.  I won't pray at the alter of the golden arches but I will help add to the "Over 1 Billion Served" sign. 

Monday, January 29, 2007

The Birthday Flan

I recently received one of those email forwards that asks
you several questions in an attempt to help the recipient/s get to “know” you
better. Bored, I decided to fill it
out. One of the questions was, “what
are your pet peeves?” Hmmm… I thought
about it for a minute expecting to be flooded with answers and none came to
me. I
think I ended up writing “hypocrites” or some other lame answer.

Pet peeves are interesting things. They linger in the back of my mind, only rearing their ugly head
when faced with a pertinent situation. I have TONS of them but I seem to only have access to their existence
when faced with an actual peeve. This
weekend, for example, I met some friends for dinner at a local steak
house. We were enjoying our meal and
the fact that, for once, we thought we could engage
in an adult conversation without interruption because our children were not with us. We were wrong.  We did have interruptions: three of them, all in the form of a
high volume, clapping filled serenade of dinner guests who claimed to be
celebrating their birthdays. The second
the 19-year-old waiter asked for everyone’s attention, the hairs on the back of
my neck stood up and I could feel my blood pressure rising. Then, the light bulb went off. Random, loud birthday celebrations in
restaurants are a pet peeve of mine, a big one.

The waiter said something like, “Ladies and gentlemen,
tonight is Cindy’s birthday. She’s
turning 28. Let’s give her a hand and a
yee-haw.” Everyone around us clapped
and yee-hawed. My friends and I did
nothing. We crossed our arms and rolled
our eyes and expressed our disdain in a most passive aggressive way. Why do I care that it is Cindy’s
birthday? I don’t even believe that it
is Cindy’s birthday. Her friends may
have gotten together and decided that it would be hilarious to tell the staff
at the restaurant that it was Cindy’s birthday tonight. What a good laugh that would be when Cindy
is thrust into the spotlight. Hardy har
har. I can remember, fifteen or twenty
years ago, when it was a novelty to get a birthday serenade. You’d go into a Mexican restaurant; they’d
put a sombrero on your head, snap your picture, and bring you out a birthday
flan. That was it. It was cute and funny. Those days are gone. Now every restaurant has some clever way to
celebrate the birthdays of its patrons. In order to avoid this most annoying practice, you either have to eat at
a fast food restaurant or a super fancy, upscale restaurant. Otherwise, your Friday meal is going to be
interrupted by Cindy’s birthday and you’ll be ask to clap or scream “yee haw”
or some other nonsense.

I implore you to help me put an end to this practice. The next time you are in a restaurant and
your conversation is interrupted by Cindy’s obnoxious birthday celebration,
cross your arms, look angry and refuse to participate. You’ll be surprised how ineffective yet
self-satisfying it is. We shall overcome!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Used Toilets and Debt

It’s tax time ladies and gentlemen. Time to use Turbo Tax, go to the Post Office
and use the old school, snail mail forms or hit H & R Block to pay some
non-CPA high school grad an exorbitant amount to do your taxes for you. Having two kids has really made the
beginning of the year a much more prosperous time for us. We’re getting quite a bit back this
year. What are we going to do with
it? How much fun will we have with our
tax return? Are we taking a lavish
vacation? Buying some new
furniture? Upgrading my husband’s piece
of shit car to a lesser piece of shit car? Nope. We’re paying things
off. We’re paying off our cruise, some student
loans, and some other bills that we have absolutely nothing to show for.

We epitomize the current young (and sometimes not-so-young)
American tradition with an extra strike against us: a single income. We have
some debt and some student loans and, while we have enough to pay the bills and
live in comfort, we still live just a little bit beyond our means and spend
most of our time playing catch up. It’s
an uncomfortable existence and one which we hope to expunge in the coming

I should reword that to say, “one which I hope to
expunge in the coming year.” It is me,
after all, who does all of the spending. I pay all of the bills. I do all
of the shopping and make most of the choices when it comes to our money. I don’t spend carelessly (most of the time)
and I try not to use retail therapy (a very common coping mechanism for my
generation) to fill me up. Thankfully,
my husband uses Sodoku and the History Channel therapy to self-soothe. He would rather go to the dentist than go
shopping and he simply does not care what people think of him. He is a welcome balance to my over-the-top,
impulsive, insecure self. Thank
goodness he is so frugal.

My husband is, without a doubt, the cheapest person I
know. He once came home with a toilet
that he found on the side of the road. A TOILET! I asked him what on
earth he planned on doing with it and he said that it was in perfect condition
and could be sold or used on a future home improvement project. I was horrified. Whose ass had been on that toilet previously? How could I possibly subject myself and my
family to a used toilet? He was quick
to point out that I have used many toilets in gas stations and fast food
restaurants and that, after some Lysol and bleach, there really is no
difference. I understood his point but
remained bound and determined that neither my arse nor the arses of my children
ever graced that commode. Mission
accomplished. It now sits in a random
apartment in Jacksonville, Florida (we did a brief stint as resident managers
of an apartment complex) being used by some poor soul who is oblivious of it’s
origin. All kidding aside, my husband
is the reason that we are in fairly good condition financially. He keeps me balanced and I’m grateful. I guess toilets from the side of the road
and a garage full of other people’s roadside trash is a small price to pay.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

If I Only Had the Nerve

My son growls before every third or fourth word. He’s four years old and I’m pretty sure that
this is not normal. His growling is
just the latest in a series of ticks that my son seems to be working his way
through. The sound is difficult to
explain and very strange. It can be
best described as a morph between the cowardly lion and Chewbacca. He only growls the first syllable of some
words, with no particular consistency. My friend and I discussed it yesterday and could not help but notice the
similarities between my son and the strange young lady who sang “If I Were the
King of the Forest” for the American Idol judges
. It is truly a talent, not exactly the one I would have wished for
him, but a talent none-the-less.

My poor kid. Every time
he spoke yesterday my friend would have to cover her mouth and chuckle to herself
which, of course, was contagious. We were fleeing rooms and giggling fairly often during our trip to the
Children’s Museum. My friend
was totally baffled by his behavior. Me, I wasn’t even phased. I have
come to terms with my son’s ticks because I was forced to come to terms with my
husband’s many years ago. It is an
involuntary habit that he comes by honestly and the best thing that I can do
for him is to, first of all, try not to blatantly laugh in his face (this is probably hurtful and counter-productive). Secondly, I need to
just pretend it isn’t happening and, like his perpetual cough of a few months ago,
this too shall pass. Someday in the
not-so-distant future my son will speak without growling. Granted, the growling will probably be
replaced by rapid blinking or throat-clearing but, as long as he is not
screaming out random obscenities and racial slurs, I’ll survive. I’m just praying that this seemingly genetic
affliction is reserved for XY chromosomes only. Please, don’t let my daughter have ticks. It’s hard enough for little girls in this
world without random growling.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Hokey Pokey

I had no time to blog today.  My day started with a trip to the local children's museum and ended with an early-middle-age-reclamation-of-youth jaunt to the roller skating rink with some friends.  Now that is what I call a full day, folks.  I'll be back up and running tomorrow.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Feathers are Falling

My son’s 666 may be fading slowly but the feathers are
falling off of my daughter’s angel wings at warp speed. As with my son, I noticed many changes in my
daughter's behavior upon returning from vacation. Hers were, unfortunately, not so positive.  I'd love to blame these changes on her Grandparents but, alas, I'm pretty sure they are just coincidental. Gone is the sweet content little girl who smiled all of the time
and never needed anything. In her place
is a strong willed little girl who knows exactly what she wants and will not
stop until she gets it.

I witnessed the first tantrum the day after I returned from vacation. It was a beautiful sunny
day and I took the kids outside to play. My son drove his cozy coup up and down the driveway while my daughter,
always the mimic, straddled her ride-on toy and shadowed her brother. About 15 minutes into our play session, my
daughter decided that she would like to drive the cozy coup. My son was less than thrilled with this
decision. He held the door shut with
all of his might, saying “No Sissy. It’s mine.” My daughter pulled
on the door with a surprising amount of force and stared at
me, jogging in place rapidly and producing a combination whine/cry that I can
only describe as the most annoying sound in the world. I explained to my daughter (in vain I knew
but I had to give it the old college try) that the car was her brother’s and
that she would have to wait her turn. I
then physically removed her hands from their death grip on the door and walked towards her ride-on toy.

I was in complete shock when, as I was carrying her, she
arched her back and screamed in my arms. She kicked and thrashed and cried. It was a legitimate tantrum.  I
attempted to put her down next to her toy but her body went limp and she
refused to stand. I laid her on the
ground beside the toy and let her throw her fit. I sat down and attempted to digest the fact that the terrible
twos were right around the corner. My
baby wasn’t a baby anymore and, along with the adorableness of toddler-hood,
came the irrational behavior and tantrums. Can I really go through this again? Is it better or worse that her terrible twos seem to be starting much
earlier than my son's? I ran upstairs
(during the kids’ naps) and dusted off my “What to Expect: the Toddler Years”
book. I looked up “handling tantrums,”
poured myself a glass of wine and thanked God that my son seemed to have
miraculously acquired a healthy dose of self control and rationality. It could not have come at a better
time. Armed with my book and some wine, I’m
ready for battle. Bring it on little

Friday, January 19, 2007

Martha Freakin' Stewart

I really enjoy cooking but I’ve been uninspired for some
time now. I tend to run through the
same 5-6 recipes over and over again and listening to my son tell me, “I don’t
like this. This food is yucky. I won’t eat it;” consistently has
taken it’s toll. Plus, my husband is
such a fast, mindless eater that he finishes his plate in 3 minutes flat and
then looks up at me as if to say, “Where’s the rest?” I shoot him a look and he immediately covers his tracks by
saying, “It was really good honey. Thanks.” The damage is done, though. He is much more about quantity than quality,
which is proven beyond a shadow of a doubt by his adoration of Ramen noodles. Who eats that crap? It is such a waste of calories.

Dieting with my husband has given new life to my love of
cooking. In the past, I have tried my
best to diet while also trying to serve an enjoyable dinner to my family. These two things have been mutually exclusive
(at least in my mind) for quite some time. With the advent of a dieting partner, though, things have changed.

I have suddenly made the transition from a culinarily
challenged housewife to Martha freakin’ Stewart. I have tried three new recipes this week, which is a small
miracle for me. I made Hummus on
Monday. The recipe called for tahini
(sesame seed paste), which I searched for at three local grocery stores to no
avail so I actually made some of my own (I heart my food processor). On Wednesday, I made a yummy chicken
casserole. This is a rarity for me as I
am not a casserole person. I prefer
that all of my food items exist separately on the plate. If you’d like to give me nightmares for a
week, just serve me up a slice of shepherd’s pie. Yuck. Shepherd’s pie,
squash, and ham salad were the primary reasons that I dreaded going to my
Grandma’s dinner table as a child (she made up for it at breakfast when she
served up Sugar Smacks. Yum!). Finally, last night, I made some lo-cal
chicken quesadillas. My poor husband
was done with his portion in less than 45 seconds and never took his eyes off
of his food. I think his Gandhi diet is
starting to backfire. It was just a
matter of time.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

A Farewell to Damien

It is amazing how quickly the tides can change where
children are concerned. When I left for
vacation I was frazzled, tired and even feeling some desperation about my son’s
behavior. I’ve been back for four days
now and he has yet to even visit the naughty mat. His manners have been absolutely impeccable and he has been a
downright pleasure to be around. I have
rediscovered my sweet child and it is such a refreshing change.

So, my question now is, what happened? Did his grandparents, unbeknownst to me, put
him through some sort of old school behavioral boot camp while I was away? Did I need a break from him so that I could
relax and refocus my energy on the positive instead of feeling exhausted and
focused on the negative? Did he just
need a break from me? Or, is it
possible that he has turned a corner and grown up a little? I’d like to think that it is the latter but
I am well aware that my frustration level with him was palpable and that a
vacation from being a constant disciplinarian was just what the doctor, and my
son, ordered. Perhaps, though, we are
on the tail end of this difficult phase.

Maybe my son’s self-control is starting to kick in. Could it be that his room wrecker days are
behind him and holes in the walls are no longer a legitimate concern? I need to check under the hairline at the
base of his neck to see if the “666” has faded. If it has, perhaps I will be ready to retrieve the heavy object from
their random hiding places throughout the house and move them back into his

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Gluttony Fest and the Gandhi Diet

We are back from our cruise. After four solid days of boozing, eating, and even smoking a
little hookah (I’ve told a couple of people this and they immediately assumed that I was referring to marijuana—I’m not. It is a Middle-Eastern flavored tobacco); we are tired, broke, and
bloated. Having never been on a cruise
before, I did not realize how indulgent and excessive it was. Everything was in excess. The booze were pushed on us and flowed like
a river in the form of fruity, delicious drinks that went down easy and begged to
be refilled. The food was really good and
available with no limitations 24/7. My
husband actually ordered two appetizers and two entrees one night just because
he could. Do not think for a second
that this extravagance prevented him from ordering dessert. He did and finished it, all the while
consuming massive quantities of beer and wine.

It was a little slice of heaven for both of us but it is
over now. It’s time to face reality and
reality is not pretty. Our waistlines
have grown, our checking account has shrunk, and our bodies are still
dehydrated from the alcohol and weary from lack of sleep. We’ve got a solution, though. In order to make ourselves feel better about
our four-day gluttony fest, we have decided to go on a diet together. This is a first for us and it has already
(just two days in) proven to be an interesting ride.

My husband is a stranger to dieting. He’s always been fairly thin and never
really had to watch his weight. As they
often do, things changed when he turned 30. His waistline started to expand and he began to feel the effects of his
fondness for McDonalds and Taco Bell. I
have taken a little bit of pleasure in this because I have always had to watch
what I eat. I do, however, want us to
be healthy and active so we have decided to do Weight Watchers. I have done it before so I know the ins and
outs of the system and I tried to give my husband a crash course.  Apparently, it didn't take. Yesterday was our first day of dieting and
when I saw him in the evening I inquired about his food intake. He announced with pride that he had ingested
only twenty calories so far (this was at 7:00 pm!!!) and that all he had done
that day was drink coffee and water. Horrified, I explained to him that fasting was not good for his body and
going all day without food and then dining on pizza and Ramen noodles was not
exactly what the creators of Weight Watchers had in mind. His response was as follows, “Fasting worked
for Gandhi.” God help me. I’ve got my work cut out for me.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

It's 5:00 Somewhere...

And we are off on our cruise.  I'll return to the blogosphere on
Monday, the 15th.  I'm hoping this vacation will rejuvenate me.
Maybe I'll return and my cynicism will have melted away leaving me a new woman,
positive and worthy of emulation in every way.  Who am I kidding?  I
just need a break.  I need to wake up on my own time and spend a couple
consecutive dinners without worrying about what my son is ingesting and whether
or not he is going to make it to adolescence on chicken dinos and
applesauce.  That, coupled with a nice glass of wine and a view of the
ocean, is my current version of Utopia. 


See you on the flip side.


My friends and I talked at length today about public versus
private schools. We live in an area in
which the vast majority of people with the means to do so, send their children
to private schools. The public school
system in East Tennessee is less than stellar and there are several very
successful private schools to choose from. There were six of us at the table, three of whom had children of
elementary school age. Each of them
sent their children to a different private school in the area, ranging in price
from $4000 per year to $7000 per year. Of the three remaining Moms, two of us (including myself) planned on
sending their kids to public school and one of us was undecided. It made for an interesting

Ever since I had my son, I knew that he would attend
public school. Sending him to private
school just wasn’t a possibility for three reasons. First of all, when I get right down to it, I cannot afford
private school. In order to afford an
additional $300-$500 per month, I would have to make major sacrifices and go
back to work at least part time. Secondly, I do not feel strongly about my children receiving their
education in a religious environment. I
know many people do and, in that case, private or home schooling seem to be the only
viable option. Finally, I went to
public school and I turned out fine. I
was consistently on the honor roll, performed well on all standardized tests,
and got into the college of my choice. I doubt that the outcome of my life would be significantly different if
my parents had opted to send me to a private school.  Maybe I'm wrong.  Perhaps if I had been exposed to the advantages afforded by private schools, I would be accepting my Nobel Prize right now but I seriously doubt it.  If a child is going to excel in school then they will do so
regardless of whether the education is paid for with public tax dollars or with
(in our case) a second mortgage. I just
don’t think it matters all that much. Now, that being said, I think it is extremely difficult for even good
students to excel in schools that are in very low-income areas. If I lived in an area where the schools were
plagued by extremely low test scores, violence, high levels of teacher
turnover, and major budgetary problems, I would likely find a way to move out
of that area, home school, or make the necessary sacrifices to place my child
in a private school. I am not attempting to
make a blanket statement about the state of the American education system. Low-income schools were not a factor for us
today because, by and large, the people who took part in the discussion were
zoned for adequate public schools in fairly affluent areas.

Like most people, I tend to defend my positions with
conviction when I don’t really have a choice whereas another person might. That was the case today. If I were to win the lottery tomorrow or my
husband were to receive a significant raise in the next year, I might sing a
different tune. Right now, though, I
fully plan on sending my child to public school. It’s either that or find a way to work an additional $400 into
the monthly budget. I cannot even bring
myself to commit to a $40/month gym membership, I hardly think I am ready for a
large tuition payment.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Bahamian Beer

My husband and I are going on a cruise this week. We are leaving on Wednesday morning and
taking our first vacation sans our children since my daughter was born. We are leaving them in the capable hands of
my parents but that has not stopped me from worrying. My son has never been the type to get homesick so I have not
spent any energy stressing about leaving him. I have, however, expended a great deal of energy worrying about leaving
my daughter.

My son was 18 months old when we left him for the first
time. We flew to the Bahamas for five
days of sun and fun-filled debauchery. It turned out to be a great trip but the first night was rough. I called my parents (they were babysitting)
and checked on my son after dinner. I
missed him desperately and, at that time, he was so sweet and well-behaved that
I thought that I had miraculously created the perfect child. Aaahhh, the naivety of a new parent. I felt lost without him. It was as if I had a  less intense version of empty
nest syndrome. God help me when my kids
go to college. I’m going to need some
drugs. After my phone call to my parents, I felt sorry for myself and counted
down the hours until our return flight. I was certain that I had made a mistake coming to the beautiful island
of Freeport. I decided, out of
desperation, to do what any other rational human being would do. I drank my worries away. There is something about Bahamian beer, the
Caribbean Sea, and steel drums that makes your troubles melt away. I think it had more to do with my blood
alcohol level than the music or the ocean but, hey, I thought I’d throw it in
there for good measure. I had so much
fun that first night that I didn’t call my parents again until the third night
and I got a little sad when we boarded the plane for the mainland. It was a bittersweet departure.

It seems fitting that we are going to the Bahamas
again. I know that I will have some
panic-filled moments about being away from my daughter but I will also have a
remedy within reach at all times. I’ll
be surrounded by the Caribbean Sea, steel drums and, most importantly, lots and
lots of alcohol. I’m already dreading
our bar tab.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Resolution Realism

If my New Year’s resolution last year were to join a
clogging troupe and perform throughout East Tennessee in the nursing home/small
town festival circuit, I would have accomplished that goal with very little
effort. If it were to face the most
difficult challenge of my life and attempt to “tame” a strong-willed three year
old with a serious case of sibling rivalry by using a plethora of unsuccessful
but well-meaning discipline strategies, I would have succeeded. If it were to try and fail several times at
several different weight loss programs, I would be a resolution superstar. These, however, were not my New Year’s
resolutions in January of 2006. My 2006
resolutions looked something like this:

  1. Learn to play the guitar.

  2. Lose weight.

  3. Get in shape.

  4. Spend more quality time with my kids.

  5. Be a more conscientious consumer.

None of these things happened. I still struggle with my weight. My guitar playing skills are limited to two chords. My biceps are, well, less than defined. I still struggle with fitting true quality
time with my kids into my schedule and I continue to utilize retail therapy on a
regular basis. Hmmm… mission not
accomplished. Does anyone ever really
stick with their New Year’s resolutions or are they a short-term way to
motivate change in our lives? Do we
really intend to fulfill the resolutions that we make for ourselves or do we
just use this beloved tradition as a means for expressing what our ideal selves
would be? Does anyone ever even
remember their resolutions after Groundhog day?

In the tradition of this year’s Christmas letter, I’d like
to start a realistic New Year’s resolution movement. Take your hand-written resolutions out of the bottom of your
underwear drawer (I usually hide mine to ensure that people never find out what
a failure I really am) and take a look at them. Are they realistic? Is
there any way that you will actually accomplish them in the next 12
months? If not, put a big slash through
them and start anew. Here’s my new list
for 2007:

  1. Stop spending money on weight loss attempts you moron!

  2. Get my kids through the year with no major injuries.

  3. Keep up with Another Gray Hair.

  4. Get published (this is my loftiest goal but I can do it).

  5. Get my son to eat something other than bread, peanut butter, and chicken. (this one might be tied with number four for loftiness).

I’m pretty sure I can accomplish these goals. I did, after all, decide not to drop $40 a
month on a gym that I can’t use until May. Go me! I’m off to a great start
in 2007.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Size 0

I am such a cliché these days. Yesterday, when my husband got home from work, I went to a new
gym that opened here in town for a tour and a sales schpiel. I joined the millions of others who walk
into the gym during the first week of January with their sleeves rolled up,
ready to go. We are filled with promise
and motivation. We are destined to get
our bodies back to their slim and trim, pre-kids and marriage, shape. We just know that a size 0 is
attainable. We can devote 7-8 hours to
our bodies a week because we are destined to succeed. Our families may suffer as a result, but that’s OK. It will all be worth it when the Gap jeans
from 1993 that I keep hidden at the very bottom of my trunk fit again. It will happen.

I didn’t join the gym. The facility is still under construction and the childcare will not be
available until May. That means that I
would be paying $40 per month for a service that I could not use for five
months. I just couldn’t justify
it. So, I will be attempting to make
good on my New Year’s resolution in the comfort of my own home. I may regroup in May on the gym thing but,
until then, it’s the treadmill and videos for me. Yuck. It’s hard to stay
motivated when you fantasize about strangling Denise Austin in her sleep.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Noise Pollution

I love watching Supernanny. It always makes me feel much better about my own
children. When I watch the five year
old kick and hit his Mother so hard that it makes her sob, I feel better about
my son’s tendency to kick, hit, and bite when he does not get his way. He’s never made me cry (at least not in
front of him). When I see the little
girl who dislikes her fish sticks so much that she throws her plate across the
room in a fit of anger, I feel better about my son’s nightly response to his
dinner plate: dramatic arm cross, deliberate thrusting of the bottom lip and a whiney serenade of phrases like, “I
don’t like this.” This behavior usually
continues for some time but, nine times out of ten, he follows our two-bite
rule and comes through at the last second with two feverish bites before the
egg timer goes off and he fails to get a token for “Eating” on his
responsibility chart. At least his
dinner stays on his plate. It rarely
ends up in his stomach (except for the two bites) but, if it isn’t going to
make it to his stomach, I’d prefer it not make it to the wall either.

In my opinion, the Supernanny's greatest assest is
her English origin. For some reason,
when parenting advice comes from a stout British woman it is extremely
convincing. Thanks to Jo Frost, we now
have a naughty mat in our house. It is
a brightly colored striped rug that sits in our hallway. I bought it a couple of years ago at a yard
sale and immediately had buyer’s remorse but I have, thankfully, put my $5 to
work.  Not only is the rug irrefutable
evidence of my ample abilities as an interior designer, but it is also a very
functional piece of room décor. Who
knew I could be so clever? This is
where my son serves his time-out sentences. It has worked fairly well so far and is a vast improvement from locking
him in his room (this still happens on the rare occasion that he refuses to
stay on the mat).

Thankfully, my son’s Room Wrecker phase seems to have
dissipated quite a bit. Granted, he has
found other ways to be destructive. He
is now an expert noise polluter. Because he is confined to the naughty mat and there are no loose objects
within his reach to propel, my son has decided to serenade me with vicious
sounding screams the entire duration of his time-out. It’s a joy, especially when it happens during dinner. We sit at the table attempting to convey an air of normalcy while my son screams, “Get me out of time out! It’s been 45 minutes! I WANT OUT NOW! Mommy!” He says it over
and over as if it is on some sort of tortuous loop. I guess I should be grateful for these dinner serenades. I definitely prefer noise pollution to holes
in the walls.