Jun 30, 2008 What's Going On
I just posted an Open Letter to Regal Cinemas over at NYC Moms Blog. In short, we went to see WALL*E yesterday, and while the movie was fantastic, the movie-going experience just gets more expensive and more annoying. But I daresay it’s worth it for this movie. Go see it as soon as you can. I’ll be posting a review later today tomorrow, hopefully.
After going overboard with popcorn and M&Ms at the movie yesterday, I vowed to get back on the wagon this morning with eating well. I lost 25 pounds last September and October, and would like to lose more. I do best with short-term goals, so I vowed to lose ten pounds in the month before BlogHer. With 2.5 weeks and six pounds to go, I’m a little behind schedule, so I was committed this morning…until after I dropped my son off for his first day of summer camp.
Burger King breakfasts are a huge temptation for me. Luckily, there’s no Burger King in my part of Brooklyn. The closest one is more than a mile away and doesn’t have a drive-thru, and is kind of dirty and unwelcoming. So I never go there. But there is a Burger King on my way back from summer camp. I had forgotten it was there. I pulled in, thinking I would just get a croissan’wich, 300 calories. I’d still be fine for the day. But then I impulsively ordered hash browns. When she asked what size, my brain said small, but medium came out of my mouth. And then, to top it all off, my daughter didn’t eat the last third of her sandwich, and I finished if off. My 300 calorie treat had become over 800 calories. On a whim. It was 9:30 in the morning and I had already had over 1,000 calories. Not a great way to start a Monday. Now I’m going to have to be extra careful all day, so that the day isn’t a complete disaster. The one good thing about fast food? It fills me up for far longer than healthy food, so I won’t even be thinking about eating for a long time.
Jun 28, 2008 What's Going On
No, I’m not talking about anything Freudian. For my husband and me, the Popsicles that I bought yesterday have become a source of contention.
My husband and I used to fight about one thing only: money. We’d have skirmishes here and there about other things, but if I were to list our top ten biggest fights, fights about money would be at least eight of the ten. But recently, for the past four months or so, we’ve been having huge fights about what the kids are eating.
I’ve had issues with my weight since I was about 18 or 19. For years it was just the same 20 pounds or so, but since I was trying to get jobs as an actress, that 20 pounds might as well have been 200. Then I had kids, and I just ballooned up. I’ve taken some off in the past year, but still have a ways to go. And I’ve been trying to pay close attention to why I eat too much. If I only ate when I was hungry, I think I could eat pretty much anything and be an OK weight. But I eat whether I’m hungry or not, and continue eating way past the point of being full. I’ve been doing it as long as I can remember. When I was a kid it was OK because I was running around all the time. But in my late teens, it all started to catch up with me.
After much introspection and observation, I realized that I was mostly eating out of fear: fear that the food wouldn’t be there tomorrow. When I was little, I spent a lot of time at my grandmother’s house. She would buy me any foods I wanted, and I lived on a diet of Jeno’s mini pizzas, ice cream, sugary cereals, and peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwiches on Wonder Bread (or so I’m told). I ate as much as I could, as often as I could, because I knew that when I went back to my parents house, it was going to be all carob and tofu and brown bread. It probably wasn’t as bleak as all that, but that’s how I saw it as a kid. I was insanely jealous of friends whose houses were packed with junk foods.
So, I would feast, in anticipation of the famine. And years later, when our house was filled with a bigger variety of foods, and I had control over what I was able to eat, I was still eating as though the “good stuff” was going to be taken away. And as I got older, and wasn’t on sports teams any more, and got a car, and money for eating out, the pounds starting coming on.
I don’t want my kids to grow up with the same food issues that I have, but we’re sending them down the same path. I try to give them as much leeway as I can with what they eat, without totally going against what my husband wants them to eat. But as they get older, it’s becoming more of a problem. I can see them attacking food and eating and eating and eating, and not even paying attention to whether or not they’re full. My son craves white bread and pasta and chocolate all the time. I think he should get it all the time. Eventually, he’ll get sick of it. But The Ass (that’s how I’m going to refer to him from now on, since that’s what I usually call him at home) thinks that’s horrible, that I’m encouraging bad eating behaviors.
It’s not like I think eating white bread and pasta and chocolate all the time are good for Jake, but I also know that the more we try to get him to eat other foods, the more he’s going to want what he wants. My husband is a raging liberal, but in this case I think he’s using a very conservative kind of logic: do what you think is right, based on your principals, not what you think will get results. Just think teen pregnancy and condoms vs. abstinence, and you’ll get what I mean.
Fiona always wants ices and Fla-Vor-Ice pops and ice cream. So when she wanted Popsicles at the store yesterday, I picked out a big box of sugar-free, lo-cal ones. Personally, I believe in giving kids the real stuff, but I figured these would make The Ass happy and she wouldn’t have to beg and plead for them.
So today, she asked her Daddy for two, and he said no! And I was like “Really? The low-cal, sugar free Popsicles? She can’t have two?” And he said no, because that would be gluttony. Because she perceives it as a dessert, a treat, something to beg for and cherish. So letting her have two would send the wrong message.
I give up. The girl who loves broccoli and yogurt and baby carrots and fruit of all kinds can’t have two Popsicles, because that would be gluttony. But Jake the pasta boy had Oreos and chocolate chips, and that was OK. It’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever witnessed.
Jun 28, 2008 What's Going On
It’s now been about three weeks of Jake and Fiona being at each other’s throats whenever they’re alone. They’ve been fine in public, but put them in a room alone together and Fiona will be crying within five minutes.
When the kids have dinner on weekdays, sometimes I eat with them, sometimes I stay in the kitchen cleaning up (where I can see them the whole time), or sometimes I use that time to relax or get a few minutes on the computer. Leaving them alone to eat a meal never used to be a big deal. They used to like each other’s company. But lately, I just don’t know what’s going on! I think Jake is realizing that Fiona’s not a delicate little thing any more, getting closer to being his equal, and he’s getting jealous. But it’s not all his fault: Fiona can drop to the ground in pain for no reason as convincingly as any Turkish soccer player (sorry, my husband’s been watching the games – he’s Turkish – and they’ve been taking some serious dives).
So, I got them their dinner, and settled in on the couch. Five minutes later, it started. Fiona screamed as though someone was pulling her hair, and Jake ran into the living room clutching the last piece of quesadilla. “Mommy, she’s trying to take the last piece but she hasn’t eaten any of the food on her plate yet!” Fiona was still screaming. I yelled at her to come in. When she finally did (after crying and screaming at Jake for a few more minutes), she collapsed on the floor, wailing that Jake was stealing her dinner. I tried to explain to her that she couldn’t take more until she had eaten what was on her plate, and if she was still hungry after that I would make her more. She finally dragged herself back to the table, but oh, the injustice!
Then, Jake kept putting his hands right near (but not on) her plate. (I can remember doing this kind of crap to my sisters.) I yelled again. Then Fiona ran into the living room again, because Jake had put cheese on her broccoli when she had wanted to do it (I think he was actually trying to be nice, after getting yelled at a couple of times). Then, Jake ran in saying that Fiona had told him to shut up. I had had enough. I sent them both upstairs to their room, dinners half eaten.
I let them come down about ten minutes later, and explained to them that from now on, anyone who tattled on the other (for something that was not dangerous or an emergency) was going to get punished. That they had to work this petty shit out for themselves. That I didn’t want to hear about anybody telling anybody else to shut up, or who was almost touching something, or who called whom stupid. I just don’t care. So whoever bothered me with that sort of stuff would get a punishment.
Dr. Phil (yes, I watch him!) talks about bad situations needing a hero. I tried to explain to them (Jake especially) that somebody can decide, at the beginning of an argument, to be the hero and end it right there, by walking away or ignoring the other person. That even though that doesn’t get you immediate attention, and it’s harder for someone to notice when you do something right, that I would notice and remember. We’ll see how it goes.
Originally posted on Selfish Mom
Jun 26, 2008 What's Going On
My son Jake is six. He’s reading way above grade level in school, top of his class. And yet, when he’s home, he always picks picture-laden books from his sister’s shelf. Granted, most of them used to belong to him, so they’re familiar and comforting. He’s read them so many times he has them memorized. (I’ve read Little Women about two dozen times, so I can relate.) But I know that he would enjoy chapter books if he gave them a chance.
He just may the the only kid I know his age who isn’t reading chapter books. I’ve tried! He loves the cartoon movie version of Charlotte’s Web, so I thought the E.B. White book would be a good start. He refused to even pick it up. So then I thought I’d try something more adventurous, and I picked him up the first book in The Spiderwick Chronicles, and he had no interest in that either. I even tried reading it to him, but he kept asking for his favorites, Richard Scarry’s What Do People Do All Day and his sister’s alphabet book.
Today I came across an interesting list of age-appropriate books on Tech Savvy Mama. The Encyclopedia Brown books look promising. I haven’t offered him any chapter books in a few months, so I think I’m going to get him the first one in that series and see what happens. With summer here, and more time to read, I’m hopeful.
BTW, Tech Savvy Mama is running a contest on her blog right now, giving away 10 sets of books from Scholastic. You can read about how to enter here. Good luck!
Originally posted on Selfish Mom
Jun 23, 2008 What's Going On
Have you ever wanted to knock your kids’ heads together? I’m talking pick them up by the scruff of the neck, bonk their heads together, and say (in a heavily-accented Goodfella’s voice), “What’s the matter with you?”
My kids have always had their little scuffles. They’re siblings, I get it, I expect it. But for the past two weeks, something has been going on. Whenever they are alone together (and that includes in the back seat of the car with my attention and eyes on the road) they’re at each other’s throats. He hit me! She’s on my side! I got it first! And this has led to hits, punches, twisted arms, kicks, and one scratch.
Today I was in the kitchen washing dishes (OMG, I miss having a dishwasher!) when I heard Fiona crying. Not her annoyed cry, not her whining cry, but her seriously hurt cry. I ran in to the living room to find her clutching her eye and Jake rubbing his forehead. They had been fighting over who was going to sit on which part of the couch. Fiona had staked her claim, and Jake had sat down on top of her. In the scuffle that followed, they had rammed heads hard. Fiona had gotten the worst of it, and has the beginnings of what may be a black eye by tomorrow.
I couldn’t believe it. The fighting had been escalating at a steady pace, and I had warned them just yesterday that someone was going to get seriously hurt. I just lost it, yelling and lecturing. At one point during my tirade my son, with a look of cool defiance on his face, reached for a toy. I grabbed it and smashed it to the floor (a stupid move for a couple of reasons, the first being that’s not the behavior that I want to model, and second, I almost hit the remote). I sent them to their rooms until dinner (another hour), and then after dinner, instead of TV or playing, I made them clean until bedtime.
On the one hand, they need to learn to get along, because they’re driving me crazy. But on the other, when I think back to how my sisters and I used to fight, my kids are doing OK! One house that we lived in had those big old-fashioned keyholes in all of the doors. My sisters used to try to spy on me in my room, and when I saw an eyeball in the keyhole, I would jam a pencil through it. Amazingly, never poked out a single eye, but man did I try.
I don’t expect them to get along all the time, but I don’t want one of them to end up in the emergency room either.
Originally posted on Selfish Mom
Jun 20, 2008 What's Going On
I had been toying around with the idea of going to BlogHer ’08 ever since I started blogging for the SVMoms group a few months ago. It seemed like it would be a fun weekend, plenty of parties and events. And a chance to visit my sister and her girlfriend, who live in San Fransisco, where the conference is being held.
However, since then, one of my other blogs – FilmingInBrooklyn.com – has really taken off, and I’ve decided to go to the conference to actually learn something about the business side of blogging. Can’t wait! I’m even using the conference as motivation to lose ten pounds in a month, and naturally I’m blogging about it (what am I not blogging about these days?) on one of my other sites, HowILostTheWeight.com. [Update: I had to close all but two of my sites, this one and Filming In Brooklyn. I'm happy that FIB has gotten so successful, but it's almost become a full-time job, and the other sites were getting ignored.]
As a bonus, another SVMoms blogger is running a contest, sponsored by HP, that gives $250 to a BlogHer attendee. HP is really getting on my good side, first sponsoring a fabulous Kung Fu Panda party that I got to bring my kids to, and now supporting mom bloggers with cold, hard cash. Thanks HP, even if I don’t win!
Jun 18, 2008 What's Going On
Our house has been overrun with mice lately. We’ve always had a mouse problem, for the whole two years that we’ve lived here. Part of the problem is that we’re undergoing a renovation (the longest one in history), so there’s no way to close everything up. When we called an exterminator, that was the first thing he asked: Did you close up all the holes? Ummm, no, the whole house is one big hole right now.
So, we bought a couple of Rat Zappers. These are big shoe-box size contraptions that run on four D batteries and electrocute the unsuspecting mouse (or rat, as the name implies). These worked pretty well for a while. We caught one or two mice a week for a few months, and then less and less. We took this to mean that the problem was getting better.
Maybe, maybe not. In retrospect it could have just been that the smarter mice had learned to avoid the Rat Zappers. It’s like a bad horror movie for rodents: you watch friend after friend go into the spooky gray box, and they never come out. Eventually you’re going to get a clue. So, with nothing left but mice smart enough to walk around the traps, they were breeding super-mice, mice with inborn knowledge of our fancy traps.
After finding some poop and, yes, mouse hairs on the counter, we realized that the mice had not left the building after all. But as long as they were showing themselves only at night, when we were asleep, we could live with it. Go ahead, have a party on our counter. Just be gone before we get up in the morning. It was an uneasy truce, but we didn’t want to get any more traps. I hated the thought of a mouse getting stuck in a trap that might not kill it right away. At least the Rat Zapper was quick.
So one day, about a month ago, having been lulled into thinking that the mice were living their lives and we could live ours and never the twain shall meet, I saw one scoot across the dining room floor. Later that night, my husband saw one. WTF? These were not the agreed upon rules. So the next day hubby went out and bought a bunch of good old fashioned snap traps. And he managed to place them all over the kitchen without losing a finger.
Of course, we didn’t want the kids to get curious about the traps on their own, so we did a little demonstration of what could happen to a finger or toe, using a chopstick. Naturally, the kids thought they were toys and wanted their turns snapping the chopsticks. Sigh.
The first day, we caught two, within fifteen minutes of each other. And it was awful. Neither one died right away. The traps had caught them but not killed them, and they squeaked and squeaked until my husband beat them to death with a dustpan. At least that’s what he told me. I had run screaming into the living room.
The weird thing is, I’m not scared of live mice. I mean, I don’t want them in my house, eating my crumbs, pooping on my counter. But when I see one I don’t jump on a chair shrieking like a 1950s TV housewife. No, that only happens when they’re dead or dying.
We caught one every few days for two weeks, my wonderful husband emptying and resetting the traps each time. Thank goodness, after the first two, the poor mice were being killed instantly. This was all happening in the evening or overnight, so I never even had to see one dead mouse.
Until today. I was upstairs taking a nap. I was just drifting off to sleep when SNAP! I ran downstairs to see what it was, hoping that it was anything but a half-dead mouse. My husband wouldn’t be home for six or seven hours and there’s no way I could kill a mouse myself.
Luckily for all involved, it was dead. But I shrieked when I saw it anyway. I didn’t know which trap had been tripped, and I was scared to even look. But there it was, next to the garbage can, upside down with the trap on top of it.
I called my husband at work: “There’s a dead mouse in the kitchen.” “Where?” “Next to the garbage can.” “Oooh, the first kill for that location!” “Stop it, when are you coming home?” “Seven.” “Then I don’t know how the kids are going to eat because I’m not going in the kitchen until it’s gone.”
Of course, I did go back into the kitchen eventually, but it took a couple of hours. I’m not sure what I’m so afraid of. I have this fear that the mouse isn’t really dead, and that if I get too close it will spring up like a cartoon mouse and bite me on the nose. I’m also afraid that the mice are getting tired of the slaughter and are waiting for their chance to launch a group assault. Maybe, just maybe, I’ve seen too many cartoons starring mice in my lifetime.
When the kids got home from school, I had to tell them about the mouse. I didn’t want them going to the garbage can and being surprised by it. My son wanted to see it, so I let him peek around the corner at it. He went “Ewww” and then we had a little discussion about how Daddy and I really hate to kill them, and we wouldn’t bother them if they stayed outside, but we can’t let them live in the house. It’s the same approach we took with bugs.
So, I was sitting at the dining room table a few minutes ago, and SNAP! Another one. Including the one the RatZapper killed today (he must not have gotten the memo), that’s three in one day. I didn’t even go in the kitchen to look. My husband’s asleep, and there’s sure as hell nothing I’m going to do about it. So I grabbed my laptop and fled to the living room, putting two closed doors between me and it. I know I’m chicken. I don’t care. I’m more than happy to let my man take care of the mice.
Originally posted on Selfish Mom
Jun 16, 2008 What's Going On
SoCalMom is running a contest on her blog involving stories of memorable road trips. Our most memorable road trip happened this past Thanksgiving. We were driving from Brooklyn to Buffalo, and if we had been smart we would have left in the morning. But I wasn’t packed or ready, so we finally headed out after an early dinner.
We had been on the road for about an hour, but were only a few miles away from home. We were in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the BQE. Our six-year-old son Jake was in the backseat watching a cartoon with his sister, and I was in the front passenger seat reading the paper. Hubby was driving.
All of a sudden, Jake said “Mommy, do you have a plastic bag?” I hadn’t really even processed the question when the projectile vomiting started. It came in three waves. The first wave went straight out in front of him and hit the back of the driver’s seat, splashing all over my son’s backpack on the floor and dripping into the seat pocket. The next wave went into his lap, covering his clothes, the seat belt, and his booster seat. I finally got a plastic bag into his hands for the third wave. It was an awful lot of puke.
As if all of that wasn’t bad enough, it took us fifteen minutes to get to the next exit and get off of the expressway! Poor Jakie had to just sit in all of that puke until we could get to a gas station. And oh my God, the smell. My husband ran in and bought a gallon of water and a roll of paper towels. There was no way we were going back home. Even though we hadn’t left Brooklyn yet, turning back at that point would have meant leaving for Buffalo the next morning and not being able to cook Thanksgiving dinner at my mom’s house, so we got to work. Hubby cleaned the car while I cleaned Jake off as best I could. Poor kid had to strip down to his underwear (it was about 45 degrees) while I cleaned him off with very cold water. I just tossed his clothes in the garbage, along with his backpack and booster seat.
As Jake was shivering in the cold, he kept apologizing to us for throwing up. It was heartbreaking.
That was the first and only time that either of our kids had every thrown up in the car. But now I’m totally paranoid about it. Before any trip I give each of them a gallon Ziploc and make them promise to keep it within reach. I’ve got paper towels, wipes, and extra plastic bags. I’m ready for the next time. But ewwww, I hope there’s no next time!
Originally Posted on Selfish Mom