30 October 2007

Hoochies Unite!

Tomorrow is Halloween. Little Man will be unveiled as Elvis, we will have our first real Halloween part, and women everywhere will put on the bare minimum amount of clothing.

I don't really get it, to be honest. Sexy is one thing. Slutty is quite another.

Apparently, if you happen to be a female, Halloween provides ample opportunity to whore it up a bit. For instance-

You can be a witch-

Apparently, the only thing that you need to be a witch is a pointy hat.

Or, if the macabre isn't for you... sail the high seas as a pirate!

The sword is really what gives the costume that certain something, don'tyou think?

And how can you not want to take a walk down a yellow brick road when you're stepping out as Dorothy? She's not from Kansas any more boys and girls...

I'm not even sure I understand this one-- and
gangster bunny. Since when do bunnies even
run liquor?

And just in case Dorothy was too tame-- why not dress up as
the kind of nun all little catholic school boys fantasize about?

Maybe I'm just jealous that this raunchy little trend wasn't around when my body might have possibly made one of those costumes work. But, really, how many people out there can make those silly costumes work? From the looks of the fairly average college girls trying them on at the local Halloween shop, not very many. You just kind of want to pull them aside and say, "Sweetie, no matter how you work it, that little bitty thing you think is a nurse outfit doesn't make you look sexy, it makes your completely normal and fairly average body look just exactly that."

But what I really want to know is when did Halloween become just a holiday for the guys? Sure, there's something exhilarating about dressing like the slut you (secretly) wish you could be. Inhibitions, be damned! But for what?

A student of mine said today that Halloween is the day girls can dress up and not be judged. Then what's the point of hoochin' it up? Don't they want to be judged? Isn't that the point?

Anyway- we'll be having a nice, tame little Halloween party. No body shots with toddlers running around. But I think it's better that way. After all, what hoochie out there is taking home both the King and the Wolfman home with them when it's all over? And I'm not even breaking out the garter belt.

29 October 2007

Why Little Man is Brilliant, Part I

I know that every parent thinks that their child is smarter, more talented, and cuter than pretty much any other child alive. I struggle constantly to recognize this propensity in parenthood, but every time I think I have the megalomania conquered, Little Man does something that puts me clear back to square one.

If it pleases the court, the people now present the following evidence:

Exhibit A-
You know those little pop-up toys that kids play with? You twist a knob or push a button or flip a lever and suddenly a little door pops up and shows the kid an animal of some sort. Great entertainment. Really.
Anyway, we have one and one day Little Man was playing with it. Out of the blue, and without coaching him, I asked which one the elephant was. Sure enough, the little booger pushed the right button. Thinking it was a fluke, I asked where the panda was. Right again. Somehow, he managed to memorize the entire board.

Exhibit B-
J was fastening him into the car seat tonight, and he suddenly exclaimed "elephant" (not quite that eloquently, but still). Look though he might, J couldn't find an elephant anywhere in the car. Then he realized that Little Man was pointing to a puzzle piece-- an upside down puzzle piece. No elephant was visible. He just knew, from the size and shape of the piece, that it was the elephant piece. Even out of context.

Every time I don't expect anything, he comes up with some new trick or piece of knowledge that he just picked up somewhere. Flippin' brilliant-- really.

28 October 2007

More (kind of) mindless fun!

Mommy/prof tagged me for this meme, and I figure if an almost tenured prof. has time to meme, than who am I to argue?? Although I'm still not sure about this

First, the rules:
There are a set of questions below that are all of the form, "The best [subgenre] [medium] in [genre] is...".Copy the questions, and before answering them, you may modify them in a limited way, carrying out no more than two of these operations:

You can leave them exactly as is.
You can delete any one question.
You can mutate either the genre, medium, or subgenre of any one question.
For instance, you could change "The best time travel novel in SF/Fantasy is..." to "The best time travel novel in Westerns is...", or "The best time travel movie in SF/Fantasy is...", or "The best romance novel in SF/Fantasy is...".
You can add a completely new question of your choice to the end of the list, as long as it is still in the form "The best [subgenre] [medium] in [genre] is...".
You must have at least one question in your set, or you've gone extinct, and you must be able to answer it yourself, or you're not viable.
Then answer your possibly mutant set of questions. Please do include a link back to the blog you got them from, to simplify tracing the ancestry, and include these instructions. Finally, pass it along to any number of your fellow bloggers. Remember, though, your success as a Darwinian replicator is going to be measured by the propagation of your variants, which is going to be a function of both the interest your well-honed questions generate and the number of successful attempts at reproducing them.

So, without further ado:
My great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparent is Pharyngula.
My great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparent is Metamagician and the Hellfire Club.
My great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparent is Flying Trilobite.
My great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparent is A Blog Around the Clock.
My great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparent is Primate Diaries.
My great-great-great-great-great-grandparent is Thus Spake Zuska.
My great-great-great-great-grandparent is a k8, a cat, a mission.
My great-great-great-grandparent is Monkeygirl.
My great-great grandparent is DancingFish.
My great- grandparent is Dr. Brazen Hussy.
My grandparent is Addy
My parent is mommy/prof

The best television series in SciFi is: Heros
The best cult movie in comedy is: Austin Powers
The best high-fat food in Italian cooking is: Fettuccine Alfredo
The best recent movie in comedy is: Knocked Up
The best romantic movie in comedy is: French Kiss

I tag: MGM, C..., Yellow Dart-- and whoever else can figure this out ;)

25 October 2007

Staying in the Moment

I just finished writing this rather depressing and sappy post about how I'm all stressed out right now. Then I got to the end of it, realized that writing it was enough, and decided that I couldn't possibly post it.

Instead, I thought I'd give you some random moments of joy in my daily life.
Before we went to DC, I showed Little Man some of the animals we'd be seeing at the zoo on the computer. The National Zoo has this fabulous website where you can watch live webcams of most of their animals. You can usually see an elephant and, almost always, the not-so-baby-anymore baby panda. Little Man loves it. Loves it so much that he wants to see the "eppugees" all of the time. "Eppugee," oddly enough is also his word for apple juice which is his word for any kind of drink. One night we were playing in the living room, and suddenly he took my hand, looked at me earnestly and said, "eppugee?" I asked, "Do you want a drink?" To which her replied solomnly, "ooo....eppugee, kiyyee kaa, oo-oo- ah-ah." Which translates, roughly, to "elephant, kitty cat, and monkey." How can you say no to a request like that??

To distract him from watching the eppugees all of the time--ok, really to entertain myself, because I can only look at the same #@^#^ elephant picture so many times in one week, I tried to find some animals on YouTube. Here's what my search came up with:
This is now Little Man's most favoritest thing to watch. And how can you not love it? Now, instead of eppugees, he wants the bock-bocks.

Oh- and he wants this too:

Can you blame him?

23 October 2007

Back on Track

I've been in a holding pattern lately.

After I finished the Fitzgerald chapter, I kind of stalled. I took a little break, then we had to do some traveling, then J got the weird opportunity to apply for a job we weren't planning for, and then suddenly it's the end of October and I have no third chapter done yet. Really, no third chapter even started.

Lately, I've been unfocused. With all the grading and running around, it's been hard to get back to a routine where I'm really getting something done. I've started waking up at 6AM to work, and I think that's helping a little. But I need to get cracking.

Lately, though, all I want to do is play with my new sewing machine.
It looks kind of like this (only blue) and it's so easy to use. The only machines I've ever used are older-than-sin-Singers, so I was a little unsure about not buying a Singer.

I really never saw myself as the sewing type. I'm not all that great at it, but it sure is a great stress reliever when the machine works. Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzip and you have yourself a table runner. Twenty minutes or so and there is actually a tangible finished product. In the midst of this interminable dissertation, having something that has a real end point--an easily attainable end point--seems absolutely delicious right now.

But I really do need to get started on something more in line with my real work. I have a bunch of things that I should start working on, so maybe after my meeting (finally!) with my chair on Thursday, I'll have either the inspiration or the impetus to start something.

19 October 2007

The One about Spanking

I know that some people have reacted and commented on the last post I made-- especially my own guilt about wanting to spank Little Man. I really appreciate those comments, because they always make me reexamine my own beliefs and my own decisions.

I think I need to clarify some of my comments though.

I think that we all have to make our own decisions about parenting and discipline-- only we live with our children. I know, in my own situation, that the moments I've wanted to smack my child doing so would have only made me feel better--and then very soon after, worse.
I know that developmentally, a child Little Man's age isn't really able to control his impulses-- it's why they do things over, and over, and over, and over, and over--until they can control their impulses, I don't think that a little (or big) smack can be effective. That urge to keep trying things is natural, and fear doesn't stop it. I don't think toddlers know what they're feeling half the time. Most of the time tantrums are just an overwhelming rush of desire and angst and fear all rolled into one. They seem so out of control because they, literally, are.

J and I have thought long and hard about the way we want to discipline our children. All I ever knew was discipline that involved a swat on the behind occasionally. I didn't really even buy into the whole time-out thing until somewhat recently. But as I think back over what I remember of the discipline of my childhood--and, really, I wasn't disciplined all that often-- I realize that spanking loses its effectiveness. I can remember the moment when it stopped being effective for me: my dad threatened to hit me for something and I thought to myself, "go ahead...I don't care." Maybe I said it out loud, I don't remember. But he didn't carry through. I don't think I was ever threatened with a spanking again...

The thing about spanking, I think, is that it is founded on fear rather than respect. I don't want my children to fear me. I want their respect, but like anyone else, like anything else, respect is something that has to be earned. I believe that parents earn that respect through consistency, stability, and the unconditional love they give their children. J and I decided that we want to think of discipline as a way to educate and guide. Yes, there will be punishments. Yes, it will drive me batty not to smack him sometimes. But in the end, I know that hitting him will make me feel awful--absolutely awful. I don't want to hurt the thing I love most. So, for me, I want to choose a disciplinary style that I don't feel bad about. I have no qualms whatsoever about sitting him in a corner or boring him silly. That I can do without guilt.

I like to think, in my infinite wisdom, that my instinct not to hit is the right one. But the American Association of Pediatrics backs me up on this. They state in their "Guidance for Effective Discipline":

Despite its common acceptance, and even advocacy
for its use, spanking is a less effective strategy
than time-out or removal of privileges for reducing
undesired behavior in children. Although spanking
may immediately reduce or stop an undesired behavior,
its effectiveness decreases with subsequent
use. The only way to maintain the initial effect of
spanking is to systematically increase the intensity with which it is delivered, which can quickly escalate
into abuse. Thus, at best, spanking is only effective
when used in selective infrequent situations.

They also say
• Spanking children ,18 months of age increases the chance of physical injury, and the child is
unlikely to understand the connection between the behavior and the punishment.
• Although spanking may result in a reaction of shock by the child and cessation of the undesired
behavior, repeated spanking may cause agitated, aggressive behavior in the child that may lead to physical altercation between parent and child.
• Spanking models aggressive behavior as a solution to conflict and has been associated with increased aggression in preschool and school children.
• Spanking and threats of spanking lead to alteredparent–child relationships, making discipline substantially more difficult when physical punishment is no longer an option, such as with adolescents.
• Spanking is no more effective as a long-term strategy than other approaches, and reliance on spanking as a discipline approach makes other discipline strategies less effective to use. Timeout
and positive reinforcement of other behaviors are more difficult to implement and take longer to
become effective when spanking has previously been a primary method of discipline.
• A pattern of spanking may be sustained or increased.Because spanking may provide the parent some relief from anger, the likelihood that the parent will spank the child in the future is increased.

Now I'm a scholar by trade. I know what goes into research and I know that when a study is published by a large scientific organization, I'm going to tend to trust it. I know that a mother's intuition is worth something, but I also know that there are a lot of times that it can be wrong.

Looking back over my childhood, the patterns that the AAPA discuss seem in many ways eerily familiar. I was never abused--never even close to being abused--not even in the same ballpark, but there is a point when physical punishment ceases to be effective. It's usually that same point where your kid has access to a car, access to friends with cars, and access to a whole other realm of dangers. That's not really the time that I want to be figuring out a back up.

I don't doubt that spanking works.... for a while. But then suddenly, your little man is 6'3" and the trusty old belt just doesn't seem like it's gonna do the trick any more. And then what??

For me, for us, spanking is not a discipline I'm willing to fall back on. I want to give my child the gift of a violence-free childhood. They do exist. J had one--and because of it, he doesn't have the slightest impulse to swat little man. For him, hitting seems so foreign, so strange, so unnecessary.

I want it to be unnecessary. We both know that it's much harder not to hit. You do have to repeat and repeat and repeat and repeat, because there is not immediate shock. It takes unending patience (something that I most certainly do not and will not ever have) to commit to this form of child-rearing.

I read once somewhere that Time-outs only work if there are also time-ins. But in a world of rushing around, stressful jobs, and limited patience, putting time in is extraordinarily difficult and exhausting. But it's work I'm willing to do. It's work that I believe needs done.

Do I think that spanking is wrong? Unequivocally, yes. Am I going to judge people who do it? Probably, but I'm sure they also think my time-outs are ridiculous. Such is life. Can I change people's minds about spanking? I don't think so. It's like J says, changing someone's mind about the way they were raised is like trying to change someone's mind about religion.

I'm just thankful for my own conversion.

17 October 2007

Random Bullets

I have a lot on my mind, and not the time or energy to develop any of these into a real post, so please excuse the randomness:

  • Dear plagiarizers, I am not stupid. Really. I promise. And even though there's not a thing I can do right now, I'm watching. Sincerely, Me.
  • I just got done re-reading most of my classes blogs for their mid-term evaluations. There's some really great stuff in there. As much as I'm now regretting the sheer amount I have to read, I like the opportunity to see them as complete people.
  • Did I mention that chocolate covered caramel popcorn is better than crack?
  • We just got back from a weekend in Ohio. It was so good to see everyone, and the visit (although short) was a good length. Sometimes I feel guilty for living so far away, but the truth is that I don't miss Akron at all. Sure, I'd love to be able to see my parents and grandparents more often or to have Little Man around the family more, but I like my little life out here on the prairie. I like that we don't have a lot to work our schedules around, other than our jobs. Retirement is coming soon, so hopefully Little Man will get more time with them all soon.
  • Little Man thinks he's 2. I thought we were supposed to get 2 years before the tantrums start. What do you do with a child who's having a meltdown?? He's been so good thus far that I am totally unprepared to deal with this new phase. Maybe it will pass quickly.
  • I hate people who tell me that I turned out ok after being raised in an environment where spanking was one form of discipline. Old school, ya know? I more and more realize that I can't possibly be ok when I have the urge to hit a toddler. There can't be anything productive in hitting a toddler. They don't have the ability to know right from wrong, predict consequences, or even control their own impulses yet. Hitting is totally and utterly counterproductive at this age (and really, at any I think). But the impulse I have is to smack him. And then I feel guilty about feeling like I should hit the most precious thing in my world. And then the guilt is just as exhausting as the toddler himself. I just can't win.
  • Also, he's started hitting. How's that for irony?
  • It's finally fall! Ok, it's almost 80 here, but at least the trees are starting to turn.
  • I haven't done anything on the dissertation for 2 weeks. Thanks to the hubby's last minute job application, the trip to Ohio, and my general urge to do something crafty rather than academic, I'm playing catch up.
  • Talked to Baby Bro the other night. I have no idea what's going on for Christmas this year. One minute I thought we had come up with a plan to get everyone together, the next minute it's not a good plan after all. Baby Bro's gonna have to figure this one out, because I'm off the case.
  • Did I mention that chocolate covered caramel popcorn is better than crack?

Ok- enough for now, but you gotta check out Mommy/Prof's random rants of bitterness. Priceless.

If You're on a Diet...

and you see a cute little Cub Scout with his dad selling popcorn, run the other way.

Nay, scream and run the other way.

Because the fine people over a Trails End make this chocolate covered caramel popcorn that is better than crack.

Not that I've ever had crack.

But who needs to, now that I have a big old bucket of that popcorn stuff in my pantry?

11 October 2007

The One about Boobs, redux

I wrote earlier about Bill Maher and the unending stupidity of people like him. The ladies over at the League of Maternal Justice are taking back motherhood by celebrating the boob.

Bravo to them. And here's to a world where mother's don't have to feel ashamed about the choices they make about feeding their children--whichever choice that is. Because, really, it's nobody's damn business. Motherhood is hard enough.

10 October 2007

Really?!?? (my appologizes to SNL)

Is this really news?

There aren't more important things happening in the world--you know, like the problems in Burma, the genocide in Sudan, the fact that Hillary just voted to call Iran and terrorist state and thus open a possible door to declaring war on them.

When I turn to the NY Times each morning for my daily dose of important headlines, I don't really except to see an eloquent, elegiac account of the death of Flower.

Yes. I understand that Meerkats are adorable. Even Nazi Meerkats are adorable:

I even understand that the massive response to Flower's death might constitute some sort of cultural event that scholars twenty years from now will evoke as some sort of postmodern existential phenomenon.

I maybe heartless and unfeeling for saying this, but WTF? This is what the NY Times calls news?


09 October 2007

As Promised....


Little Man as "The King" (the later years)

The Costume

Back View

Hunka-Hunka Burnin' Love

Thank you.... Thank you very much
Elvis has left the building.....

I'm usually fairly modest-- but is this not the greatest toddler Halloween costume ever??

07 October 2007

Elvis lives... but I can't say the same for the sewing machine

I have a ridiculous amount of work to do-- papers to grade, midterm grades to post, fellowship stuff to prepare. Oh-- and then there's that whole dissertation thing.

But despite the 90 degree October weather, I've been doing nothing but playing with Halloween stuff. Remember back when I said I was going to turn Little Man into Elvis? Mission almost accomplished. This weekend I got out the old sewing machine (and old is the operative word here. The thing is at least from the early 1960s) and got busy on those little scraps of white material I had cut out a few weeks ago. It turns out that I can actually sew. Not well, mind you--Elvis probably won't have the straightest seams--but I did complete one tiny white jumpsuit, complete with sparkley red bell-bottoms and one very small cape. I'll post pictures soon, but first I have to be-dazzle the thing with some faux rhinestones.

J is still in a bit of disbelief that it's done.

The sewing machine is also done. It's really my grandma's--an old Singer that weighs about 10lbs and only sews in a straight line. It's just too temperamental for someone who doesn't know a whole lot about sewing to deal with it. Just as I was only 3 or 4 seams away from finishing, it decided it was done. I wasted over an hour just trying to get it to sew something without the thread snapping. The Singer is going back to Ohio for Christmas and staying there for good. There's no way I am going to wrestle with it while I make the baptism quilt. The material was too expensive to screw it up with the old machine.

In a few short days, I'll have the brand new computerized machine that I found on Overstock.com. I can't believe that this is making me excited, but it kind of is. I have the baptism quilt to finish by Christmas, but before then, I need to finish Elvis, make myself a costume, and turn J into a Werewolf. With 80-some stitch patterns, I should be good to go. (Watch, I'll probably only ever use the straight stitch.)

Because Halloween is only a few weeks away and we are having a real Halloween party this year, complete with all the cheesey goodness that Halloween deserves. The kids in our two respective departments are just barely old enough for me to use them as an excuse. Although, at this rate, maybe we should have a luau instead....

05 October 2007

Too Fast?

The last week has brought with it an unexpected possibility for our little family. I can't really reveal too much about it-- too much is still unknown. And it's a long shot-- a very, very long shot.

But it's not inconceivable. And it's not really my possibility.

Through the excitedment about this little what-if, I've had to wrestle with the extraordinary anxiety of, 'yes, what if?'.

It's still a very far off possibility-- many, many things would have to perfectly align for it to come to be. Some of those things already have, but their are many, many more to go.

Yet the possibility of the what if coming to be scares me. It's not what we had planned at all.

When we decided to get married 6 (!) years ago, we decided first to go to grad school together. That plan eventually meant me leaving my happy little valley university for the land of corn. It was a trade up, in terms of prestige, but was still a trade. We've talked about what happens next, but the job market has always been this big looming thing in the distance. It has been the thing that has caused me increasing anxiety.

After all, when we decided to get married 6 years ago, I still wasn't sure. I thought that I wanted the PhD, but I wasn't sure. I could be, I thought, just as happy doing something else. The last 2 or 3 years have changed my perspective a bit--I published an article, did a conference presentation, passed my fields, and started to realize that I not only wanted a job, I wanted a job that would allow me to continue researching.

There's no telling what will happen. Perhaps nothing at all. But if something were to come of this possibility, it turns all of our plans about the future on their end. J thinks about things one step at a time, but I rush forward to the bigger things that would happen if the what if comes to pass. What it might mean for my career.

It would be amazing for us for this opportunity to happen. I'm just not sure how it would affect me.

What will they think of next??

This handy little product wins for my new favorite, least necessary invention.

The P-Mate now gives women the opportunity to filly evolve by allowing us to pee upright.

Yup. The final frontier of gender inequality has been obliterated by the fine folks at Go Your Way Industries.

Seriously folks. I couldn't make this up.

03 October 2007

DC with a Toddler- Part II

Little Man is a perfect little traveler. Really. I'm not exactly sure how we got so lucky. We like to travel and he doesn't seem to mind it.

I was worried about having him for two days, basically all to myself, but things went just fine.

Better than fine, really.

I'm not sure why I was so worried. We had a great time together.

We went to the National Zoo and saw the Pandas.

We saw lots of other things at the zoo, but he was mostly interested in the leaves on the ground and the pigeons.

See-- this is him going after the pigeons now.

We went to see the monuments with my parents, but really he was more interested in the water. After all, the WWII memorial looks suspiciously like the pool he went to all summer.

I'm not sure he was even paying attention to most of the sites-- for Little Man, DC was just one big outdoor playground, complete with things to climb, things to pick up, and lots of vehicles to see.

He was even good at church...mostly.

But in church, who can blame him for wanting to get out.

Especially when there's so much more to see......

01 October 2007

DC with a Toddler- Part I

It's really the smell that hits you first. The damp, musty smell of aging leather. And then you realize that the gray heaps you're looking at are shoes--hundreds of shoes that once graced the feet of long-dead people.

The room with the shoes is on the third floor of the Holocaust museum in DC. I visited the museum once before, back in 2001 when J and I were still just dating. In the entire experience of walking through the museum's eerily silent exhibits, it was the room of shoes that made me need to reach out and clutch his hand. I had seen so many films, read so many books, seen so many pictures of the atrocities, that experiencing the train car, the torn fragments of a Torah, even walking under the gates from Auschwitz were too familiar to be truly gut-wrenching. But that room filled with shoes--some stylish, some practical, all made monotone by sixty years of decay--brought home the human aspect of the Holocaust like nothing I'd ever experienced.

This last weekend, we visited the museum again. It was my parents first time back to DC in my lifetime, and my mom wanted to see it. This time, I turned the corner, out of the Auschwitz portion of the exhibits knowing what to expect next, and with a squirming 17 month old in my arms.

Let me just say, that this particular museum is probably no place for a toddler. It's dimly lit and exudes a funeral atmosphere that even the most jocular teen doesn't seem willing to break. I hurried him through each floor, trying not to disturb other visitors, and would wait in the brighter lobbies that waited at the end of each segment. As I sat waiting for my parents to emerge from the previous floor's exhibits, Little Man played with his new stuffed Panda, and periodically cheered for the visitors descending the steps, thinking that grandma and grandpa would appear at any moment.

When you go through the museum, you're not usually thinking about how it is affecting those around you, but having a toddler there made me acutely conscious of it. I watched people exit from the exhibits, tears streaming down their faces. The whole procession was like watching a family make their last viewing at a funeral. I was glad that most seemed relieved rather than irritated to see a jubilant toddler applauding their descent.

Escorting a toddler through the National Holocaust Museum is not something that I would recommend, and yet the experience made the museum something completely new for me. He walked through exhibit after exhibit completely unaware of the emaciated faces gazing down at him from countless photographs. For him, the room of shoes seemed an odd, and somewhat fascinating spectacle disrupted only by an inconvenient railing that kept him from trying them each on. Experiencing the museum with a toddler illustrated just how devastating the entire atrocity was. After the Holocaust, innocence like that of my son doesn't last much past the very early years. There is no way to go back to a place where pictures of piled and burned bodies don't exist. There is no way to recapture the consciousness of a time before the final solution, except perhaps in the very early years of childhood.

I'm sure it won't be my last visit. Maybe in another ten or twelve years or so, we'll take him through it once again. When that time comes, he won't be unaware. When that time comes, the smell of the shoes will stay with him, too.