7.30.2010

A Giveaway!

It’s no secret that I’ve had a great couple of weeks. Between planning for New York City, spreading the news that I will be a Voices of the Year presenter, and getting in a much-coveted couple of date nights with the huz, summer 2010 has been so far been really good to me.

So I thought I would pay it forward, and offer a little giveaway, compliments of Mom Central Canada and Playhouse Disney Channel.


The shows on Playhouse Disney Channel are a really nice mix of modern versions of our nostalgic favourites (Mickey Mouse Clubhouse; My Friends Tigger and Pooh), plus some newer entries into children’s programming that won’t make you want to poke your own eyeballs out – Imagination Movers is pretty cool, and Handy Manny, starring the voice of Wilmer Valderrama as a cross between Bob the Builder and Diego, is a huge favorite in our house.

So, if you think your kids would like Playhouse Disney programming as much as mine do, just let me know in the comments, and on August 18, I will randomly draw one commenter who will win a fun summer prize pack containing (drumroll, please)…

- A DVD with five full episodes of Playhouse Disney programs (including the ones mentioned above)
- A sticker page
- A colour-it-yourself magnet featuring a Playhouse Disney character (with crayons)
- A magnet pen that my 2-year-old can’t figure out, but my 5-year-old is going to go berzerkers for


A few details:
- This giveaway is open to my Canadian peeps only. Sorry friends south of the border; I will have to shower you with love in other ways.
- You can enter this contest on as many blogs that are offering it as you want, but you can only win once.
- Prize packs will be mailed out after my August 18 draw
- I am participating in the Playhouse Disney Program by Mom Central. I received a Playhouse Disney prize pack and a thank-you gift card to facilitate this post. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Good luck!

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7.22.2010

BlogHer '10, Here I Come

One year I didn’t know what BlogHer was.



One year I didn’t go to BlogHer because I was pregnant and my dad was dying.



One year I didn’t go to BlogHer because I was busy becoming a finalist at a country fair cherry pit-spittin contest.



One year I didn’t go to BlogHer because I didn’t have the money.



This year, I’m going to BlogHer.



This year I’m going to BlogHer and I will be getting on stage to read a post as part of the Voices of The Year presentation.



And I’m going to dance.



See you in NYC.

Whoa.

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7.15.2010

Makeover

The huz did it, and we suffered only the most minor of domestics throughout the process. I love it! What do you think?

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7.09.2010

Happiness Runs In a Circular Motion

Last week, I elicited gales of laughter from my two year old. Gales. Buckets-full of laughter. And I did it again and again. And I couldn’t believe how stupidly easy it was. We played the high-five game – you know: gimme five, on the side, up high, down low – too slow! But instead of down low/too slow, I introduced, cut the pickle – tickle, tickle! It was really quite bizarre, actually, how amusing this was to my daughter. We played it for a good 10 minutes straight, which is a long time for a two year old. And every time we played, she laughed. And every time she laughed, I laughed.

And then, on Sunday, another article came out, talking about what drudgery parenting is, how disappointed you’ll be with your life after kids, and how much you would rather be doing things like oh, shopping or cleaning house than providing child care.

I don’t know how much more of this I can take.

Ostensively, the piece was about how having children would bring you joy but would not make you happy, and to whit, went on to provide many, many examples of the unhappiness parents face – with their looks, with their spouses, with their leisure time, with their financial situation, with their expectations, with their lives. All these things, of course, being made so much the worse by the decision to have children, and the false expectation that all of the above would be – what? magically unchallenged and filled with rainbows simply because you now have the privilege of changing someone’s shitty diapers?

Really? Who ever believed that? No one I know, not one person at all, so why should there be a six page article refuting such a thing?

There are some truths in the article. Yes, parents are usually tired, often overtaxed and would probably agree that the really cool thing about parenthood and having children is that it transcends happiness. They call it joy.

I call it love.

But really, back to the gist of the thing, the thing that got my sensible white cotton panties in a knot (because everybody knows that sexy undies are only for the childless): the idea that our children are supposed to make us happy at all.

Since when? Just as kids are not born with an instruction manual, they are also not born with a resume. The only expectations we should have of our babies is that they will poop a lot, eat a lot, keep us up at night and eventually learn to hold a brush so that they can at least brush my hair, damn it, while I read Barnyard Dance to them for the gazillionth time.

A while ago, in my more energetic days (read: when I only had one child), I wrote a really heated piece in response to that other great disservice to moms and dads, Parenthood Is Boring. The basis of my entire post was, hey fools, what the hell did you expect?

This time, that’s maybe the subtitle of my initial response, but the headline would be: Happiness – It’s Not Just For Parents Anymore.

And what I mean by that is, wade through all the harsh realities of parenting – which (and here I will also agree with a point in the article) only we seem to consider harsh, and every other generation and culture seems not really to consider at all – and where we are left is in a circle.

A family is a circle, where joy, happiness, pride and struggle is learned and shared. If you ask my mother, the only thing you inherit from your children is insanity. The rest you’re supposed to teach to, and share with, each other.

And hey, I’m still getting there. Trust me, in my family there are expectations about happiness – my children seem to think that it is my job to make them happy. It’s true: they shout, dance! and this monkey dances. But then they smile and laugh, so the dance monkey smiles and laughs. See? It’s circular. And a circle is balanced. And it rolls. Find the balance in parenthood, and if it temporarily eludes you, roll with it. It’s not forever, it’s for now, and since you had the kids anyway, think about what you’re going to look back on and regret. Are you going to regret that you couldn’t buy a pair of gladiator sandals because your kid needed glasses, or are you going to regret that you were so preoccupied with feeling overwhelmed and sorry for yourself that you didn’t notice that your child no longer runs into your arms when she needs comforting, because it’s circular, and she can sense your preoccupation and unhappiness.

Instead of bemoaning all the reasons we are unhappier people because we sprung a few kids from our loins, let’s try concentrating on all the very simple ways we make our children happy every day, and all the very simple ways they make us happy – from a reluctant giggle to a heart-bursting joy, every day. Don’t believe it’s possible? Seriously, try stroking your child’s arm, soft as velvet, or laying with them and feeling their sweet breath slow as they fall asleep. It’ll make you happy. It’ll make them happy. Or just teach your kid the ‘cut the pickle’ game. I guarantee you’ll at least crack a smile, and hey, it’s gotta be better than doing housework.


These people make me happy. I must be an idiot.


Postscript: Another item in the article that I wouldn’t refute is that Scandinavian parents have less worry than American parents. Sounds true. At the very least, Scandinavians get a year’s maternity leave paid, during which time they can bond with their child, breastfeed for more than a week, get to know their child as a person, and get to know themselves as a parent. If I’m not mistaken, Americans are forced back to work after 6 weeks unpaid leave. Full disclosure: Canadians get the Scandinavian treatment. I stayed home, getting paid more than $400 a week, for at least a year after each of my children was born. I was not forced to go back to work still blurry-eyed and shell-shocked from the birth, unable to ever find my footing or balance as a result. I will completely agree that those circumstances can eff up a parent’s perspective on happiness. Mobilize and fight for change, oh parents of America.

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7.05.2010

The Circumcision Debate or Why I Can Finally Pull My Head Out of The Sand

My husband and I are immeasurably relieved to have had two girls. And no sons.

Yes, that’s 100% true.

(Is your mind racing to tell me how wrong I am yet?)

Ok, now I’ll tell you why that’s 100% true.

It’s because I did not have to decide whether or not to circumcise – a decision I would have agonized over, were I to have given birth to a son.

Another study has come out, once again, that is sure, once again, to incite a whirlwind of activity among the debaters of the question of circumcision. And now that my own husband has been genitally mutilated for the benefit of our reproductive freedom and the universe is certain that I will not be having a son, I am no longer afraid to think concretely about the subject.

I am accused, all the time, of being a hippie – or at least, of being pretty crunchy. I homebirthed. I babywore. I breastfed each of my girls for more than two years. I cook organic, healthy meals. I co-slept, and still do when the girls feel like they cannot possibly rest unless one of their feet is lodged in my ribs. I don’t trust the drugstore to supply anything that has to touch my children’s skin. I have been a vocal opponent of cry-it-out and sleep training in general.

I used to judge other parents, maybe a lot. I can’t anymore. The longer I am a mother, the better I feel about the decisions I make, and the more I empathize with the decisions that other parents make.

Yet, my feelings on circumcision are not clear, and I dealt with those feelings by praying I would never have to make a decision about it one way or another. And as I said, and as you know, I never did. Phew.

Because even though I am kind of a hippie, I am also a Jew. One who supposes herself more of a cultural, than religious, Jew, but a Jew nonetheless, used to matzo ball soup and loud (loud!) family get-togethers and circumcised penises. But like I said, I am not religious, and willing to bend or ignore rules to suit my family and my values. So of course, just as I have chosen to be a Jew that has tattoos and eats bacon, I could also be a Jew that joins a growing movement of those that do not believe in circumcising their baby boys.

But here’s something else – I’m not sure I think it’s so horrible.

I mean, it is – it is horrible to inflict pain on my child and alter the appearance of a body part for no discernable reason, and I didn’t even like it when a nurse tried to stick my newborn daughter’s heel for a blood test.

But I might just have circumcised my son.

Because I am a Jew. And it’s normal to me. And I married someone who is not a Jew. And I am concerned, all the time, about passing on the things I think are important about my background – their background – to them. And I worry about diluting our background, yet do not want, ever, to force them on a path that is not right for them. I want them to choose who, what they want to be, how they want to live, and I want only to open, not shut doors for them.

So I might just have circumcised my son for this very reason. What if I had had a son, and I did not circumcise him and that closed off a path to the Jewish religion that he might have wanted, might have needed, to pursue?

Like I said, I do not want to push my children in any direction; merely give them the security and the knowledge and the support they need to head off in whatever way they choose. But I feel, in my heart of hearts, that had I a son and not circumcised him, I would have closed a door to him before he ever had a chance to decide if he would have preferred that door remain open.

And please don’t offer the argument that by not practicing, say, Buddhism or Sufiism or Marxism that I am already closing doors that a child of mine might want to walk through, left, right and centre. I don’t think that, as a parent, I’m supposed to know everything, but I do believe I should teach them who they are and what I know about that.

Maybe you see my struggle by now, or maybe you think I am nuts or just plain wrong. I see all of those things when I allow myself to think about it. I guess I am pleading religious tolerance or simply trying to work through guilt I carry over something that hasn’t – and won’t ever – even occurred. I am Jewish, after all; I wear guilt like others wear cute scarves.

Where is my husband in this, you may ask. He was always standing right beside me, assuring me that he would support whatever I decide, for he saw that the struggle was mine. I will not tell you what he ‘looks’ like, only that he would not have tried to persuade me one way or another, knowing how tangled the decision is with my (cultural) identity in general. He’s a good man.

And I am a mother to two girls, who refuses to judge or jury any other mother over whether or not they circumcise their son.

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