Just say no to those Halloween costumes and other musings

I had a conversation with a good friend the other day about a Halloween party we have been invited to.  I am really hoping that I feel up to going to this party.  She is trying to think of a way to get out of it.  Why?  The costume factor.  That’s right.  As kids we all loved Halloween.  The costumes, the candy, the parties.  As adults in some ways it becomes a huge pain in the butt.  Why?  The costume factor.

Here in ClarksVegas we have something that shows up every year in the early fall (not really- it arrives in late August but who’s counting) that marks the beginning of the Halloween season. Rising from the gravel field across from the Target and adjacent to the mall parking lot, the huge orange inflatable structure rises out of the dust.  This year it even had a big sign that said “NOW WITH AIR CONDITIONING”.   It is commonly called “the big pumpkin”, but the official name is Halloween Express.  I have seen inflatable kids toys, but this is the first inflatable business I have ever seen.  The structure itself causes many mothers to lose their minds because our children insist on driving by the stupid thing every single time we are on that side of town!  Kids love looking at it, parents want to drive their SUVs into the side of it.  But I digress.

Little A has never been into the big pumpkin.  Aside from the fact that I can go hog wild buying her costumes on that little site that has everything (LOVE me some eBay!), Handsome Hubby and I went a few years ago and I knew immediately that Little A won’t be going in for a long, long time.  The scary stuff abounds, plus it was hot as hades in there (plastic building,  no ventilation, August heat in TN, sun beating down, you can imagine).  Things hanging from the ceiling, spooky music, it is just not a toddler scene.  Plus……the costume packages and mannequins.  These are extra special.

I must have missed the memo that said Halloween is an excuse for all people with XX chromosomes to dress as slutty as possible.  Maybe it went to my spam folder.  Or Barracuda stopped it.  Or the voice of my Momma in my head telling me not to let me not to show my tail to the world deleted it.  For whatever reason I just missed it.  I recall in college dressing up, and we were all cutesy and funny.  Not “hoochie”.  But then there was a long span where I was getting degrees and getting married and having a baby that I just sorta skipped Halloween. So maybe that’s where I was when the memo came around.  ANYWAY…the theme of Halloween for all females (regardless of age) seems to be on the extreme side of pushing the envelope.  The displays and the costume packages show how short, tight, corseted, low cut, and generally revealing the costumes for sale are.  Do not get me started on the area in the back of the store where the “dressing rooms” are.  You might accidentally see something that is not meant to be seen by the general public.  You just can’t unsee things.

Handsome Hubby and I attended a party two years ago which I admit was the first Halloween party either of us had attended in nearly a decade.  We went to the big pumpkin shopping, which is where I learned how behind the times I am.  We settled on a gangster & flapper girl combination, mainly because I managed to find a flapper girl dress that I could wear a bra with and tights as well  so I wouldn’t feel totally exposed.  Trust me it was the least offensive of the options.  This was a neighborhood party and I didn’t care to show all the goods to the neighbors thankyouverymuch.  I had a one year old baby, and wasn’t exactly feeling my most body confident if you know what I mean.  It’s a family event people, gotta keep things covered!  Last year Hubby and I bought new costumes but didn’t get to wear them sadly.  I went for the funny and not the revealing, and I think we will wear them this year.  We are going to be the Spartan cheerleaders from Saturday Night Live.  (I will wear legging under the skirt, FYI.) Perfectly safe, no danger of flashing cleavage at anyone.

Back to the upcoming party and my friend.  She is seriously trying to ditch the party and leave town rather than

A) braving the big pumpkin to see if their new AC has broken the oppressive heat

B) face co-workers and friends dressed like extras from a late night movie on Cinemax,

C) searching for a costume that will cover all her major flaws and private areas while still seeming cool and not dowdy in the least.

This is a serious problem.  Especially since these more revealing style outfits are now being marketed to teens, preteens, and KIDS!  Several of my favorite blogs have articles about this very topic recently, complete with pictures of the costumes now available.  Check out what Jenny has to say about it here on Mommin’ It Up.  For another view check out what Jamie has to say about it here on Blonde Mom Blog about cherishing the princess years (man I am dreading the zombie years!).  For even more check out Brigette Raes, Style Expert’s thoughts from last halloween.

I know I only have a few more years where I will get to be the final vote on Little A’s costume.  I did let her choose this year.  Yes both choices were girly and glittery, but she chose.  (She will be a monarch butterfly BTW.) I know that seeing other girls and women dressed in revealing costumes is going to remove some of the “shock factor” for her and make it normal.  I guess I will just have to talk louder so that I can be that voice in her head like my mom is in mine.



The Mommy Wars: now in children’s book form!

First let me say that I totally needed something to distract me from my recovery.  I have watched WAY too much TV and read far too many trashy magazines in the past few days.  I was cruising through my Google reader yesterday, checking out all the latest “momspiration” (that’s like Thinspiration for a mother FYI) from my favorite mommy bloggers.  One of my favorites is Mommin’It Up by Jenny and Emily.  If you haven’t fallen in love with their daily dose of hilarity and insight check out the whole blog here.  Go check it out and come right back, because I can’t wait forever to drop this next thing on you.  Hurry up! Go!

Okay now that you have learned all about Jenny and Emily and have become a follower of Mommin’It Up ….I am going to draw your attention to one particular article.  Emily posted a little parable entitled “The Mommy Wars: Storytime Edition” yesterday.  Being a school librarian (as well as a Mommy) I was of course interested.  By the time I finished reading the piece I was literally screaming at my iPad.  My blood pressure went up exponentially and I might have opened up my healing incisions gasping for air.  Seriously.  The book that Emily is discussing in this article is enough to cause heart palpitations or panic attacks in anyone- much less someone like me who is recovering from surgery.

First let me say THANK YOU to Emily.  I appreciate your writing about an uncomfortable situation.  If you didn’t say anything to the school or the teacher then you are a much better person than I.  You handled the situation admirably. There would have been angry letters and screaming and possibly cursing (but not in front of the kids) if it were me.  I love that Sam’s school has a book sharing bag.  I am guessing that this book was chosen for the bag for the month of October because the mother is a witch.  That is no excuse, but I am assuming that was the rationale.

Second, as an educator and a library media specialist I fancy myself well versed in literature for children and young adults.  I make an effort to know pretty much every book I can, because a patron (student) may ask me about it and all they can say is “I think it has a blue cover and it’s about a fish” (or my personal favorite query “I am looking for that book, you know, the one about the girl who does that thing and goes to that place and that guy that does the stuff”  YEAH- I know just the one you are looking for!).  It’s my job to know what book they are requesting.  I sorta need to know what I am doing.  This book however has never crossed my radar.  How is that possible?  Perhaps because the librarians who came before me did not deem it appropriate or wise to purchase for the libraries I have worked in.  Book salesmen have been smart enough not to bring it as a book sample for my consideration.  The many book stores I have perused don’t waste shelf space on things that won’t sell. (Just guessing here.) That being said, a simple search tells me that the fair people of Goodreads (whose opinion I generally trust) apparently have no problem with this book.  Their reviews are all positive, there is no visible outrage as I expected.  (Check out the reviews on Goodreads here.)  The illustrations are instantly recognizable as the work of Tedd Arnold, beloved for his Fly Guy books.  I am shocked.  Strike one for Fly Guy’s future in our house!  I hold grudges HARD, Tedd!

This makes me reconsider my initial reaction.  I have mulled this over for 24 hours now, and I have come to one conclusion.  I still strongly dislike this book.  I do not think that it simply strikes a nerve within my working mother heart.  I do not think that it is a symbol for my own frustration and worry.  I do not think that I am making a mountain out of a molehill.  I am deeply offended by this book!  Yes it worries me and it hurts my feelings, but dang it it is sending a completely incorrect message!  The actual verbage may not be SAYING to my daughter that having a working mother is a bad thing, but it is certainly IMPLYING it.  I could go on and on but that’s not my point.

The librarian part of me cannot let go of this, so I continue my research.  Kirkus reviews of this book are good.  It was published in 1994 (the year I graduated from high school) which wasn’t THAT long ago.  The trusty Scholastic website has not flagged it as the work of the devil (not that they do that but you know what I mean).  School Library Journal actually LIKED it.  What gives?  How am I so offended by this and the rest of the world (at least my professional world) is not?

It turns out that while I was busy raising a toddler and working (OH the irony!) there has already been a virtual sh** storm about this book.  If I had taken the time (oh the luxury of time) to read Tina Fey’s latest book “Bossypants”, apparently she experienced a similar reaction to this book and it became a strong conversation point on her book tour.  Read all about it in this article from “The Business Insider”.   Another blog I have loved The Tired Feminist discussed this way back in April 2011, and you can read that article here.   I am just late to the party apparently.  But if I am late then so is Emily.  And so are all the angry mothers commenting on Emily’s blog!

Am I making too much of this?  My mommy brain and my professional brain seem to be in agreement that this is just wrong on so many levels.  I do believe in what we librarians call “reader’s rights”, but this book is just crying out to be colored on or to fall victim to a terrible Kool Aid accident.  With hot melted chocolate.  Left outside in the rain.  Overnight.  Covered in trash so that raccoons would be attracted to it.  It would be a perfect example for my “this is what happens when we don’t take care of a library book” lesson.  Sleep with the fishes book.  Catch my drift? No offense to the author or illustrator, but I am really torn about this.

What do YOU think? Mountain, molehill, or mommy wars 2.0?

Hysterectomy, hairdos and having it all- part two

It’s hard to believe that eight days ago I had surgery.  I really do feel pretty good, for someone who had a major body part sucked out of a tiny incision beside my belly button.  I’m not really in pain anymore, just uncomfortable and tired. I have even “stepped down” from the pain medication I was taking to something that makes me slightly less like a foggy brained dope head. I seriously dislike how pain meds make me feel, in case you can’t tell.

I’m not up to doing all my Mommy duties, so handsome hubby is still in charge of all things parenting. Little A is adjusting pretty well, since he is trying to maintain our routines as much as possible. Only a few meltdowns since the surgery, so hopefully she has turned the corner on the tantrums. She has been really sweet about helping take care of Mommy. She wants to rub my tummy since that’s where the boo boos are. Problem is that since I’m sitting around in pajamas with no bra on, she winds up gently patting my chest instead of my belly. I have to hide my giggles because she doesn’t know any better and she’s just being so darn sweet. Fortunately my mom and hubby have been taking her to preschool everyday and her afternoon activities, so her schedule hasn’t been affected too much. I know, I know. Even in the face of medical maladies I will abide by this child’s schedule as if it is the word of God himself. Trust me life just goes better if we stick to the schedule. I swear it’s made her the exceptional child that she is- even if it has made me nuts!

My friends have shown their true Southern style and bombarded us with enough food to feed the entire state of Tennessee. And the food! Holy cow! Chicken and dumplings, vegetable soup, lasagna, meatloaf with all the trimmings, you name it they’ve brought it. No store bought fried chicken here! This is the real deal! Hubby is gonna be sad when he has to go back to my cooking I can tell. If I really had much of an appetite I would be gaining massive pounds with all this yummy stuff in the house. That’s another topic for another day though.

I’ve had a lot of time to think about things during this whole recovery. I know how blessed I am to be healthy. I’m blessed to have a husband who is willing to take it all on and just do what needs to be done so that I can get well. I’m blessed that my parents retired and moved to this area so they can help take care of Little A (and ME) through all this. I’m blessed that hubby is finally learning how to create a decent ponytail on Little A’s head- because my friends were joking before the surgery that if God forbid something happened to me one of them would have to be responsible for doing her hair everyday! They know I won’t send her out into the world looking all jacked up, and they love me enough to understand it AND volunteer to fix her hair forever if necessary. That’s friendship right there people! Dumplings and hairdos for your daughter- you can’t ask for more from a friend!

I’m so blessed in so many ways. More than I ever knew. Guess it took losing my uterus to help me see just how much!

Hysterectomy, hairdos, and having it all – Part One

I know I’m not very good at this whole blogging thing. I haven’t been able to keep up with posting frequently enough. But y’all…I’ve had some stuff going on. So forgive me for the few and far between and just go with me here, okay?
I had surgery on Monday. Three days ago. The only surgeries I’ve ever had in my life were a tonsillectomy at 4 and a C section three years ago. And now this. This surgery that kinda changed everything, or at least the way I look at everything. I have joked about getting my tummy tucked, getting my boobs lifted, getting all sorts of nips and tucks. This was not a “for fun” surgery though. Although hopefully the outcome will be positive, this was a tough one to decide on. In July I finally went back to my girlie Dr after a year of being mad at him because he didn’t believe me that the Mirena was making me sick (can you believe he didn’t even notice that I had been avoiding him? The nerve of that man!). Turns out I had fun fibroids and Dr recommended a hysterectomy. I just turned 36 years old. Only 36. That’s nuts, right? That’s what I thought…..until the second opinion Dr agreed. The medical community agreed that my uterus had served its country and was no longer fit for active duty. It should be relieved of duty effective immediately. This is big. (Not the uterus, the decision- but the uterus was big, too!) Cutting parts out of my body type big. But many sleepless nights later, I had a laprascopic supracervical hysterectomy. This is a big deal. There are lots of things this affects, and a lot of things it means for me. Right now it mainly means that I am managing to form coherent thoughts while under the influence of narcotics post surgery (which is pretty amazing actually) to be able to tell you about this. And that my Handsome Hubby is having to pull Daddy duty all by himself as well as being my nurse. My sweet baby girl has had some whacky Daddy hairdos this week for preschool, let me tell ya! There are a lot more posts to come about this. I now have a lot more random stuff in my brain to sort out. If you have experience with this, please feel free to help me along this journey because somebody is going to google this and maybe we can write something here that will help them. This could be epic! Especially when I’m not taking Vicodin!

How to discipline a strong willed 3 year old

We’ve had quite the “phase” in our house lately. For two weeks the Princess has been a holy terror. She has been in trouble so often at preschool, I’m afraid they are going to kick us out. She refuses to nap, or even sit quietly on her mat so the others can sleep. When we take things away, she says “I don’t care” or “That’s okay”. (We call that Sassy Mouth around here and she’s got it down PAT unfortunately.) She’s been in time out, she’s missed her ‘fun activities’ (gymnastics, music class, going to McD’s to play-don’t judge me- they have an indoor play place people and it’s freaking HUMID in Tennessee right now). Nothing is working. My mom passed down the fly swatter she used on me tonight, in the hopes that we can regain some control. I haven’t used it, because while she IS defiant- when you forcefully tell her NO she cries like you’ve broken her heart- but then proceeds to do whatever I told her No about. I’m at a loss. The terrible twos were a breeze compared to this. Who knew the threes would actually be worse? A friend at work recommended Dr Dobson’s book about strong willed children, but I need some help NOW. And I’m a librarian after all, I research and figure stuff out all day long so why is this so dang difficult?!?!? Any ideas of what we should try next?

Is “Extreme Couponing” ruining it for everyone?

A few months ago my Handsome Husband became slightly obsessed with the TLC Show Extreme Couponing.  (If you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t heard of the show, check it out HERE.)  Our DVR was filled with episodes showing the extreme savings and huge stockpiles of the featured coupon clippers.  We picked up some great tricks, and learned some helpful tips.  Watching the show motivated us to start visiting sites such as Coupon Mom and The Krazy Coupon Lady.  We don’t have a newspaper subscription, so we got coupons from my parents, my sweet Granny, and friends to compound the deals on sale items at our local stores.   A couple of times we saved 10-20% on our grocery bill thanks to coupon tricks my Handsome Husband learned from watching the show and utilizing the sites.  We even bought 4 tubes of toothpaste once for less than ten cents apiece! Four tubes!  Yes, we were rolling ‘high on the hog’ with our couponing folks! (Despite only being moderately successful we really enjoyed it, for the record.)

The problem with all this “couponing” was that by the time we went to the store on Sunday afternoon after church, the shelves were so barren that it looked like the weatherman had predicted a quarter-inch of snow. (If you live in the South you understand that the mere mention of snow means that there will be no bread or milk available within a 100 mile radius of the predicted “blizzard” area.  Even if you already have bread and milk, you are culturally obligated to dash to the store and purchase more.  Just in case you get  ‘snowed in’ by that quarter-inch of the white stuff because no one in their right mind would DRIVE in that mess, your entire family can survive on a gallon of Purity’s best and a loaf of Bunny honey wheat.  Known fact.)  Several times we gathered our coupons and Kroger card, loaded Little A into the buggy and found the shelves completely empty as described above.  We soon realized that apparently other people in middle Tennessee were watching TLC as well, and they were clearing out all the good bargains before we got there.  The store managers always apologized, but they simply could not keep up with the demand.  We were just a day late and a dollar short it seemed.

Winter soon turned into spring and our little big town had a monumental occasion, our first Publix opened.  You couldn’t even get in the parking lot of nearly a week, and people were posting pictures from the inside on Facebook like they had just given birth to their 2 lbs. of Boar’s Head deli meat.  (We get really excited about new stores and restaurants around here as you can tell.) Handsome Husband and I waited until the crowds dwindled, and on a Friday night when Little A was at her Mimi & Papa’s we had a date night consisting of dinner followed by an hour of wandering the aisles of Publix.  I discovered that I can keep our grocery bill under my goal of $100 a week by shopping their sales, loss leaders, and BOGO offers.  Admittedly there are not as many Publix brand offerings as there are Kroger or Great Value options, but the ones we have tried are all quite good.  I have yet to see an empty shelf at Publix, and although we don’t go big with coupons I have used a few and they always honor them.

It is my weekly trip to Publix that brought me to the subject of this post.  While waiting for a cashier, I watched the woman in front of me checking out.  She had quite a few coupons from the newspaper, but nothing excessive.  What gave me pause was the stack of printed coupons she handed the cashier.  This woman had a small forest worth of coupons.  She must have used an entire cartridge of ink in her printer.  It was fascinating really, but I tried not to stare.

Fast forward to last night when Handsome Husband was flipping channels (he gets to hold the clicker in our house) and stopped on the TLC show.  The woman featured was explaining that she uses her stockpile to bribe people she works with at a car dealership into giving her discounts on repairwork, doing her favors, and more.  That’s not the crazy part though.  She openly said on national television that most of her coupons are printable coupons.  She pointed out that most manufacturers only allow you to print one or two from an IP address to prevent abuse.  As she strolled through the dealership moving from computer to computer, she smiled as she proudly said “Luckily I work here with access to all these computers so I can print lots and lots of these coupons”. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  No wonder the shelves are empty.  No wonder the store managers refuse to order more sale items.  No wonder people who try to coupon the right way are striking out.  There are people abusing the system, and I’m sure the manufacturers and stores know it.  Apparently this is not the only type of couponing fraud happening, either.  Jill Cataldo is a couponing expert who teaches people the CORRECT way to use coupons, and has been featured on ABC, CBS and NBC news.  I found this article on her site explaining another incorrect (and possibly fraudulent) usage of coupons that was shown on the TLC show, which also details the follow-up from the stores featured in the episode.

Seeing all this, it is hard to believe that rookies like Handsome Husband and I will ever be able to save any big money with couponing.  People who take it beyond the extreme and bend the rules to their benefit make it nearly impossible for a person who doesn’t devote hours a day to this practice to save.  It can’t be long until the stores and manufacturers start amending their policies to make up for the shortfall they are getting through the practices of people like the ones mentioned above.  One has to wonder if the show that has made couponing so popular is actually going to be the death of the practice all together.  It’s certainly ruining it for the little guys like me.

What are your thoughts?  Are dishonest coupon practices going to ruin the process for everyone?

How to survive dance recital weekend

We have survived!  The marathon of endurance and strength is over after four long days. It was all very stressful for the Mommies, and for the Daddies and family who sat through multiple 4 hour shows as well.  I must admit though that Little A thought it was the greatest thing ever.  She enjoyed every second of it and is ready to run back onstage and perform again.  I also must admit that once we got into the groove in the dressing room it wasn’t as difficult as it was the first night.  Keeping 3, 4 and 5 year olds occupied during the long wait between their performances was the most difficult part, but I learned a few lessons to use next year (if she still wants to take dance by then).

Lesson number one- all children would rather play with toys that other Mothers brought instead of the arsenal that you schlepped in.  New and interesting or not, if it belongs to someone else it is much more exciting.  (Also- portable DVD players are a gift from God.  See photo below for proof.)

Lesson two- other children will run around the room to occupy themselves during the long wait times.  This will entice your child, who will be deeply offended that you do not allow her to rip around the room like a scalded cat.  She honestly does not care if she ruins her $50 costume at that moment, but she would when it was time to go onstage. Take a walk, go outside, pace the hallways to hear tiny tap shoes make cool clicking noises.  Do anything to get the romping children out of your line of sight.

Lesson three-  bring ice for the soreness that will come from biting your tongue.  The Mom part of me wanted to correct kids who were running wild.  The teacher part of me wanted to correct kids who were running wild.  I think I literally bit through my tongue over the course of the recital weekend.

Lesson four- you can never have too many bottles of spray glitter, because not every Mom will bring it but ALL little girls will beg for spray glitter.  The whole point of recital is to play dress up and put on sparkly things, correct?  Also- even if you feel a little “Toddlers and Tiaras” about it, put some light makeup on her.  A little mascara and lip gloss for a few hours is part of the fun- Little A kept saying “I wook wike Mommy!”.  (Just don’t go full on Tammy Faye Baker- all things in moderation, remember!)

Lesson five- by the third and final day of recital be prepared to be exhausted.  Be pleasantly surprised that even without a nap all weekend, your three year old will have behaved much better than you expected.  Thank the Lord in Heaven that your family has survived all weekend with no major temper tantrums, no meltdowns, no anxiety attacks, and no screaming arguments (among adults for that last part).

Lastly, lesson six- be prepared to be amazed.  A three year old who loves to dance and wear sparkly things will forget all shyness when they walk backstage and away from you with the teenager assigned to the task of getting her class on stage.  She will grin and hop up and down excitedly, giddy with the prospect of dancing.  Somehow my child found a way to be first on stage of her group every time they performed.  She radiated happiness, and could have carried less about the audience.  She was spinning and dancing and sparkling- and it was the greatest thing in the world to her.

For all these lessons learned, nothing could prepare me for the unbelievable cuteness of those little dancers, joyful to be dancing in the spotlight and loving every second of it.  She wiggled, danced, hopped, and was completely adorable.  She has asked to watch the video at least 500 times and it was less than 48 hours ago.  She is already asking when she can do recital again.  For a mother who never danced as a child, this is all very foreign to me.  Handsome Husband still hopes that someday she drops dancing to play his beloved soccer, and part of me hopes she will become a world renowned violinist and pianist. For now, she is overjoyed at being a dancer and I am happy to give that to her.  It was a lot of work for the parents, and the time commitment and expense was great.  Yet through the exhaustion I can see that for her joy, I would gladly do it again if she asks.  For now though, all she asks is to be called “Ballerina”.