April 30, 2010

Picasso, Reborn

I've decided that aside from being the most entertaining little person out there, my daughter also has some pretty amazing art skills. I'd like to think that this is something genetic that she inherited from her mom, but really I think it stems from her desire to create really large messes. Either way, I'm pretty proud to show off one of Lainey's first projects. Here is how it began:

And here is the finished product (with a little help from mom and a pair of scissors):

Flowers were an obvious choice, though Lainey has already indicated that she can not only paint flowers, but monsters, bugs, and trees as well. Art genius and Goddess-in-the-making, no? Be on the lookout, this little Picasso may just have her own website soon....

Speaking of Spiders....

....I think they follow my blog.

This morning, I saw one crawling around in my bathtub. Probably about the most perfect place for him to be, as far as spiders go, since all I had to do was blast him with the shower head and then run the water for another 5 minutes to make sure I've sent him to a watery grave and that he wouldn't crawl back up the drain and bite me in the middle of the night.

Then, as I'm sitting here checking my email, I felt a tickle on my arm and when I went to itch it, yep - you guessed it - spider. ON MY BARE ARM. BLECH! Maybe it was the same one, back for vengence? Either way, I jumped up and did the "GET IT OFF ME" dance again. Of course, this means I have no idea where he went, so I will have to live out the rest of my day in fear.

How many spiders are considered a swarm? After two I'm already feeling like I'm in a scene from Arachnaphobia. :Shivers:

April 28, 2010

Killer Claws From Outer Space

Last night, around 3am, I was rudely awoken by a sharp pain in my neck. My immediate thought, as anyone's would be, was that a vampire was in my room. Granted, I wasn't fully awake, but as I slowly regained full consciousness and took visual survey of my surroundings and I was assured that Robert Pattison was not, in fact, anywhere to be found.

Aliens? I DID just see the movie Fourth Kind, and lemme tell ya - that is some freaky stuff. Had they poked a needle in me to use as some strange human DNA testing? If so, they surely missed the mark - all the Nobel Peace Prize winners are at LEAST 3 blocks farther north.

A spider? O-M-G A SPIDER! **Common Goddess Enters Freak Out Mode** I jumped out of bed so fast that I think I may have broke the sound barrier, throwing the blankets out of the way with one hand while flicking my hair around with the other. Is it on me still? Is it laying eggs? DID IT GO IN MY MOUTH?!?

That's when I ran my hand over the wound and realized that it was a scratch. Hmmm, that's curious. Spiders don't usually have claws, do they? I took a minute to allow my heart rate to return to normal and then started my investigation again. Owen had been sleeping next to me (that's another story for another day...) and I carefully scanned him over to make sure that he wasn't injured in any way by these ghost claws. When I leaned in to take a peek, he startled and his hand shot out and hit me. SCRAAAATCH.

Note to any and all readers out there: If your child's fingernails get long enough to injure you in a middle-of-the-night assault, it is probably a good idea to find the clippers and get to work. I'm happy to report that although this morning I looked like I had lost a fight to a wolverine, I was able to take care of the situation and get my son de-clawed.

Favorite Blog EVER

This is my new FAVORITE.BLOG.EVER: Against My Better Judgement

Here is an exerpt from said blog. Tell me you can read this without shooting something from your nose, I DOUBLE DOG DARE YOU!

"i just saw a commercial for charmin extra strong--for people who don't like toilet paper that leaves PIECES behind. It’s a cartoon, which depicts a mother bear chasing her unruly offspring up a tree as she tries in vain to pick pieces of “snowflakes” off his a**. The snowflakes, it is then revealed, are not something pleasant--they are, indeed, pieces of residue. To prove what they meant by “pieces”, the commercial actually demonstrated, with the use of a sticky surface and toilet paper, how dingle berries are born, which was pretty much the way I suspected they were born, being that I’ve never had the opportunity to see that sort of action in person. The new extra-strong Charmin left nothing behind, thus ensuring it’s user the freedom to climb trees without having your mother attempt to pick contaminated bathroom tissue off of your anus.

Then in the cartoon, the young bear shakes its behind (now dingleberry free) at the camera to prove how saucy a young bear who can actually wipe himself without residual disaster can be. Now, I actually had a friend who saw this commercial and was so appalled by it that abandoned Charmin and switched brands all together. I, however, couldn't do that. I am a Charmin disciple, I'd rather have my a** surgically removed than move onto another brand. I love Charmin, but i do agree that this latest ad campaign is questionable, although I do gleefully delight in it's lewd message. Seriously, though--unless you're an adult film star and an overly-aggressive wiper, I don't see how this can become such a problem that a whole different genre of toilet paper needs to be invented. I mean, if your b-hole is so sticky it can double as adhesive, then maybe you need to forgo a paper product all together and go back to cloth diapers, or go Afghani (although if that is your choice, I do believe you do need to wear a T-shirt expressing your lifestyle change so people can avoid interaction and hand to hand combat with you). You know, as much as I am pleased to admit it, dingleberries haven't ruined my life, social or private, and I don't recall ever once sitting on the pot with a feeling of despair and the need to scream, "G** damnit! If only this toilet paper was STRONGER!" I'm not sure who the market is for this product, but if dingleberries are this much of an issue, it certainly is not the only one."

For those of you who aren't familiar with Laurie Notaro, she is quite possibly the most hilarious person alive. To read her is to love her. In fact, I am not ashamed to admit that she is an author-crush of mine. Her first book, The Idiot Girls' Action Adventure Club, was 100% pure entertainment. Since then, I have gone on to read Autobiography of a Fat Bride, There's a (Slight) Chance I Might Be Going to Hell, and I'm currently working on her newest novel, Spooky Little Girl. I strongly urge anyone who is in desperate need of a good laugh to pick one of these books up. I promise you won't be disappointed.

April 27, 2010

Oh No! Not Sophie!

I finally gave in and ordered Sophie the Giraffe as a companion for Owen. I've never spent that much on something that will just get drooled on, but I justified it by using some PayPal and a gift card I got from Swagbucks. Wait a minute, you've never HEARD of Sophie the Giraffe? She is a "must have" in the teething circuit, so I've been told - and I was so excited to get her in the mail last week.

We went on a walk the other day, a mere four days after Sophie's arrival. She was riding dilligently in the stroller, her back foot planted in Owen's gums and her face glistening with slobber in the beautiful afternoon sun. After walking a good mile and a half, we finally got back to the car and as I'm pulling Owen out of the stroller, I noticed there was NO Sophie. Anywhere. Panicked, I backtracked the whole way (yes, the entire 1.5 miles there and back) with Lainey calling out "Sophie where aaaaaaaaaaaaarre yoooooooooou?" No luck.

Murphy's Law has played yet another trick on this Common Goddess: The more expensive the toy, the more likely you are to lose it. R.I.P. Sophie, we hardly knew ye...

April 26, 2010

Every Step You Take, Every Move You Make...

.....I'll be watching you!

Yes, that's right, I'm a people watcher. A pretty avid one, to boot. Social dynamics have always intrigued me, and the story teller in me is always interested in observing the drama that unfolds around us each and every day. Take today, for instance - it was a particularly gloomy day, and since it had been a long weekend cooped up indoors I decided to venture out to the mall to let my daughter burn off some of her energy. This mall has a play area complete with, well, a whole lotta nothing really, but it keeps the kids contained and has a sad little slide. However it's not our house, therefore making it 10x more exciting to Lainey. She had already run about three laps by the time I unpacked Owen, and then he and I took a seat on the "observation bench".

To my left, there was a younger couple - probably mid-20s - casually dressed, nothing remarkable. They apparently had three offspring in this play area, and each one looked to be no more than 10 mos older than the one before. In fact, it took a lot of observing for me to distinguish that they were, in fact, different ages. The middle child, a little girl, was especially intrigued with my son. If I so much as made eye contact with her, she'd run over wagging the snotty finger that had just been in her nose and wanting to wipe it all over poor Owen's bald head (maybe that wasn't her intention, but I call it as I see it). Each time, her mom just looked over and smiled, never attempting to thwart the nose-picker or redirect her elsewhere. After about the sixth time, when she actually started sitting beside me for lengthy periods of time, I started to get creeped out. I mean, who gets creeped out by a 2 year old? But this girl was intense, I'm telling you! She never spoke a word, just stared at us. Awkward.

To my right, there was a well-dressed young dad, his 6-year-old daughter (I know, because she told me!), and an infant girl. He apparently had two boys in there too, but they moved so fast they were merely a blur and I didn't connect them until it was their time to leave. I'm not sure that the dad ever actually looked up from his cell phone the entire time he was there, including when his infant crawled into oncoming toddler traffic. Luckily, there were no injuries...

Beside him was a young teenage girl wearing a shirt about two sizes too small (to the point where her pink bra was peaking out from underneath the barely-existant neckline), with a 2 year old boy dressed all in Ralph Lauren. I couldn't quite decide if she was the mother, babysitter, or older sister - any one of these could be a valid assumption this day and age. What struck me was her tendency to yell at this poor little boy anytime he came within 2 feet of another child. "Jayden, don't touch her!" "Jayden, get back here!" I wasn't sure if this was her protecting him, or her protecting the other kids FROM him, but honestly - if you don't want your kid to play with other kids, perhaps a playground is a poor choice?

About halfway through our time there, another young dad came with his small brood. He had a mohawk, some interesting tattoos, and a bandana tied around his wrist, I would guess around 24. With him were two boys, maybe 4 and 2, and a little girl just learning to walk. He intigued me the most out of everyone because he so boldly stuck out against every stereotype imaginable. Upon entering the play area, he got down on his knees, eye to eye with the kids, and gave his children a very gentle and well-delivered speechlet about staying in the kids area (Cell Phone Dad would've benefited from such a speech, as his 6-year-old wandered out twice while he was texting), and about playing nicely. Mohawk Dad then proceeded to walk with his daughter hand-in-hand, guiding her to the slide, and clapping like an idiot when she slid down sideways and backwards. He played hide-and-seek with his boys, and even started a really adorable toddler parade that skipped throughout the play area. Sure, he looked like a fool. And yet, I was very impressed by him. We could all take a page out of Mohawk Dad's book and really get down on our kids' level, teach them and play with them and appreciate them for the little people they are.

There was also an adorable little Hispanic girl running around, though I never did figure out who she belonged to.

I couldn't help but watch the social structure of the kids, as well. The boy named Jayden, who was constantly being barked at, hovered on the outside of the action. I could tell he wanted to run at full speed along with the other boys and join in the skipping parade, but crawled in an out of a tunnel instead. The eldest of the Irish triplets was a bully and had claimed the car as his domain, twice pushing away any child who attempted to play with it. His sister (the youngest one, not the one who was assaulting me and Owen) was the odd-one-out in fleece footed PJs, and she appeared to be wandering aimlessly and never actually playing at all. The six-year-old daughter of Cell Phone Dad was clearly attention-seeking, and was putting on a small gymnastics show for whoever pretended they were interested.

And then there was Lainey. I guess, today, I would've labeled her the socialite. She alternated between chasing the boys who were running a hole into the floor, going down the slide with Mohawk Dad's baby, and jumping up and down alongside the gymnast girl. Twice she sauntered up to the young couple and waved hello, though I believe in truth she was eyeballing the Big Gulp that was sitting between them. At one point, I saw her giving Mohawk Dad's older boy a hug. I believe she had attempted to give one to Jayden, but he was scolded before she had even breached his little bubble.

There isn't a whole lot of point to this particular blog, though I do believe through people-watching I have gathered a lot more information besides just fashion faux pas (which, don't get me wrong, can be quite entertaining in their own right). I can see, through small glimpses, how some kids get to be the way that they are. I can see what works, and what doesn't. I can take away bits and pieces to use in my own life as a Common Goddess.

Who says you can't learn from strangers?

April 25, 2010

Owen, Boy Wonder

A few days ago, I had my son standing on my lap. He was doing a little Riverdance jig on my lap that I playfully nicknamed the "Crotch Crusher" because I'm pretty sure his legs were battering rams in a former lifetime. He suddenly straighted his legs out and stood, very deliberately, for a period of no less than 3 or 4 minutes. I held my hands out for him to hold, but he took them merely for balance - he was strictly holding his own weight. Feeling certain that I had given birth to the Eighth World Wonder, I set him down on the ground and let him show off. There he stood, holding on to the sofa and smiling his big ear-to-ear grin.

Day two, I was a little less sure. He's a week shy of 5 months old, after all. I thought maybe it was a fluke, and that I let the "My-Kid-Is-The-Best-In-The-World-At-Everything" attitude take over the reasoning sector of my brain. So, when he was sufficiently fed, changed, and alert, I put him over by the ottoman. This is what I got:

A-HA! He is a boy wonder after all! He stood there long enough for me to ooh and ahh, come to realize that I should probably document it, struggle to dig through things on the counter to find my camera, fight with the camera to get the right setting, and eventually manage to take some pictures. He created a nice little puddle of drool on my ottoman but remained completely oblivious as to what the fuss was about. So if his medical ordeal weren't enough, here is more evidence that my little man is made of steel.

Yes, it's true, this Common Goddess is letting her mama pride show - but let's face it, I have some pretty awesome kids!

April 20, 2010

It's Video Time

I'd like to enter the following video into evidence - PROOF that my child, indeed, has the energy of Richard Simmons on Pixie Sticks:

And this one, just because baby giggles are the best thing in the whole entire world:

Birthday Cake!

It was the middle of the afternoon when my brother (he will hereby be referred to as "Uncle") called to say hello. Of course, any time that my cell phone appears in my daughter's line of sight she heads straight for it like a bull to a red flag. I saw no harm in letting her have a chat, so she swiped the phone from me and proceeded to listen intently to whatever it was that Uncle was saying. All I was able to hear was "weekend" and "birthday present" (he had missed Lainey's birthday and was making a visit from Chicago with her belated gift) but the second the word "Birthday" was uttered, that child's face lit up. Her eyes grew big. Her mouth dropped open, and was soon replaced by a laugh-squeal as she handed the phone back to me and exclaimed "YAY! Birthday cake!". Uhoh.

"No, not birthday cake honey, birthday PRESENT," I explained, throwing in a little extra enthusiasm just to take the edge off. Yet Lainey's face dropped all the same, and suddenly she had gone from the happiest toddler on Earth to one who has just been told that her dog was run over. On the verge of tears, she managed one single phrase before she stomped off to her playhouse.

"No birthday cake EVER."

Woah, had I just entered a time warp? One minute, I'm standing next to my adorable curly-headed toddler and the next minute I had a teenager. Full of drama and attitude. And clearly NOT happy about this innocent cake misunderstanding...

Apparently, the way to Lainey's heart is through her stomach. Mental note.

April 14, 2010

Awesome Things

I found a blog tonight titled "1000 Awesome Things". In it, this blogger compiles a list of free and simple things that just make your day. For instance, "Finally Peeing After Holding It In Forever." That, without a doubt, makes my Top 10. After deliberation, I came up with my own list of Awesomeness.

-- Having the windows open on a nice spring evening (assuming you don't have the peeping neighbors or the ones who exchange obscenities at 2am)
-- Opening a package of Skittles and finding that it's full of red ones.
-- Seeing an elderly couple holding hands.
-- Warm sheets fresh out of the dryer.
-- Baby smiles, with or without the drool.
-- Having an occasion to put on that *ONE* perfect outfit that hides all your flaws and makes you feel like Wonder Woman.
-- Sneezing after a long battle against nose tickle.
-- Laying down after a busy and exhausting day.
-- Watching a 2 year old shake her groove thang while simultaneously doing jazz hands.
-- Finding one more Dark Chocolate 'n Cherry granola bar....mmmmm...in the back of the cabinet after you thought they were all gone.
-- Getting in the car to go somewhere and your favorite tune just happens to be playing.
-- The last chapter of that book that you just can't put down. Or a chapter, in any book, period (time constraints have forced me to lower my standards on this one).
-- Coming across that mutant animal cracker that was a giraffe (?) and a rhino (?) fused together into one mega-species of deliciousness.
-- Ridiculously tiny baby socks. Double awesome points if they have some type of cute animal on them.
-- A rose in December. Or anytime, really.
-- Random texts from good friends.
-- Having time at the end of a long day to write up a list of awesome things that make you smile.

These guilt-free pleasures have been brought to you by this Common Goddess. What Awesome Things make your day?

April 10, 2010

There is officially something wrong with me....

Yep, that's it, it's confirmed - there is officially something wrong with me.

I'd been seeing the signs for a while now. Usually it happened when I was in the car, and then it started happening at home too, and by the time it started invading my sleep I realized that I had reached a point of no return.

And today, I decided not to fight it anymore. So I did the unthinkable.


....I downloaded an Adam Lambert song. **Shaking Head** By itself, not a major cause for concern. But when you add it to a list that already contains music by Britney Spears, Nickelback, and Lady Gaga, you have an open-and-shut case of Pop Culture Syndrome. I have never been a sheep, in fact usually if someone tells me to like something it gives me reason NOT to like it just because that's the defiant redhead in me. And just based on the sheer volume of times these songs are played on the radio they should fall into that category. But, dang, those tunes are catchy!

In order to combat this disease, I went ahead and downloaded some Melanie Fiona, Sick Puppies, and a new Martina McBride song to prove that I am, in fact, still a well-rounded individual. (To those who don't know me, it isn't unusual to find all three of these artists, along with Adam, back-to-back on my playlist. I guess I should add Musical ADHD to my list of ailments.)

Don't judge. Even Common Goddesses succumb to such things.

April 8, 2010

The Many Faces of Lainey

In this riveting installment, my daughter shows off her versatility with facial expressions.

Obviously, a Common Goddess in the making!

My Parenting Is Better Than Your Parenting

I’ve never really been one to advertise my parenting practices, but I've been having a lot of conversations and answering a lot of questions about three specific topics as of late, so instead of carrying around scripts of dialog and web addresses in my purse, I’m going to write it all down here. The title of this was written in jest - I’m really not trying to preach, or tell anyone else what to do. I merely want to share information that I’ve found and the choices I’ve made because of it. Feel free to take it as you will. Or ignore it. Or ask questions. Or heck, argue with me, if you want - I love a good discussion *wink*

1) I Cloth Diaper. Yes, it’s true. But they aren’t your grandma’s diapers, and heaven knows if I had to pin them both my children and I would be regulars in the ER. No, these are just as easy - if not easier - than disposables. Stick ‘em on a butt and velcro ‘em shut, that’s my motto! BumGenius are my diapers of choice. One stash of about 30 of these diapers costs approx. $540 and they are adjustable so they will fit up until the kid is potty trained. Average cost of disposables for 2 years? $1600. BIG difference. Not to mention that every time I put a cloth on, it’s one less ‘sposie in a landfill. And, by golly, that just makes me feel good. I still use disposables time to time when I haven’t kept on top of laundry like I should, so I’m not a fanatic about it. But I know the kind of money I am saving and the good I’m doing for the Earth and that keeps me going with it. There are a lot of other benefits too, feel free to read up on it more here: Diaper Facts.

2) I Don’t Believe in Spanking. Hitting someone to teach them not to hit is just, well, silly - not to mention harmful to their little psyche. Studies consistently show that spanking a child has long-term behavioral effects, from learning difficulties to aggression to sexual deviance. Don’t believe me? Do a search - CNN, Newsweek, and scientific studies all over the internet will say the same.

3) I Say NO to Circumcision. Possibly one of the most controversial views out there, especially in my own little world. “But why, Alex? People get it done all the time!” Yeah, well, people eat peas all the time too but that doesn’t mean I’m going to pick up a fork and dig in. Eating peas, however, does not have the permanent and life-altering effects that circumcision does (well, it SHOULDN’T anyway, but we won’t get into that…). To have a boy circumcised is to surgically remove an innocent and perfectly healthy part of his body. I understand some choose to do so for religious reasons (some research says that the practice began as a way to prevent masturbation - a lot of good THAT did, eh?), and I do respect that. But there are no valid medical reasons for it, and in fact not only is it NOT recommended by American Academy of Pediatrics (or any other major medical association), nor is it covered by a good majority of insurance companies, but the USA is the ONLY country in the world who does non-religious routine circumcision. And even if I did think it was a good idea, it is not my body, it is my son’s, and therefore not my decision to make. If you want more info, read this article.

Common Goddess - Out.

April 3, 2010

Oh Budget, How I Loathe Thee

I decided that after years of spending whatever we want, whenever we want, it might be a wise idea to put some things down on paper to visualize where our money is going. While it may have been a wise financial decision, it sure came as a personal eye-opener. I mean, really - who spends $78 a month on pizza? :Raises Hand: You may think that Pizza Monday is a really good (and delicious) idea, I know I do, but good grief, that's over $900 a year. I think that's more than our car insurance, and I'm willing to bet that Pizza Hut isn't going to pop out that dent in my fender...

So, its obvious that we need to get smarter about our money. Making a budget was priority number one. I spent an hour plotting numbers on a graph in a hope that I'm not as doomed as I thought. I analyzed our grocery spending, restaurant spending, random Ebay spending, and then realized that I had no idea what I was doing and decided to just make up a number that sounded good. I don't know if it is realistic, but unless I want to be blogging from a cardboard box this time next year we'd better work on it.

After the budget came coupon hunting. You'd be AMAZED at the coupons you can find for things online. From car washes, to yogurt, to an hour-long massage (ok ok, this doesn't fit into my spending...). Why in the world does anyone pay retail, anyhow? Beats me. I dutifully collected my grocery coupons and had them neatly placed inside the front pocket of my bag, ready to whip them out and show the cashier that I was the master - flash her the grin of superiority that I had practiced in the mirror - and push my cart off into the sunset, knowing that today was the day that I got the best of that store.

Well, that was the idea, anyway. Halfway out of the parking lot is when I noticed the top of the stack of coupons peeking at me from the front pocket. All that time clipping, searching, organizing, and I forgot. You win again, grocery store. But just wait, next time I will be back with TWICE as many coupons. Ooooh boy, will that cashier hate ME (and likely, everyone behind me in line also).

I am sure to encounter more bumps in my financial road, but I stand ready and willing to stare down that budget - this common goddess WILL conquer.

Pizza Monday stays, though.

April 2, 2010

Dear Nick Jr.

Dear Nick Jr,

I can't help but wonder - were the creators of Yo Gabba Gabba born crazy, or has the production of your show just worn away at the sector of their brains that is responsible for retaining sanity?

Mother of a devoted Gabba fan

April 1, 2010

The horror of BUGS!

Being the beautiful, glorious 70something degree weather that it was outside, the kids and I set up camp in the backyard this morning after breakfast. My post was the black folding chair whose nuts and bolts are so rusted that I hold my breath each time I sit down for fear that it'll send me crashing to the ground. I sat in my chair, taking in the breeze, watching the birds, feeling the sun on my face. My son sat happily next to me, fists shoved in his mouth and a fine coat of drool covering just about every visible part of his body. Suddenly and without warning, our state of zen was disrupted by a horrific scream. I turn in time to see a pink blur run through the yard. It's Lainey, running at toddler warp speed towards me. Since I had not, in fact, offered her any Goldfish crackers this lunge at me seemed odd. And once she reached my death-chair, I saw a quivering mess comparable to that blonde chick on American Idol. Lainey was inconsolible, kicking, screaming, and had decided that she no longer wanted ANYTHING to do with this beautiful day outside. She wanted IN.

So I picked up Drooly McSlobberson and we all headed inside, where we sat on the sofa. And then Lainey did something that sent a shock through me - she crawled up on the couch and - CUDDLED with me! Now, I'm sure that seems hardly shock-worthy for some of you out there, but between this child's constant stream of energy and the fact that compared to daddy I'm about as important as toe jam, this was amazing. And perplexing. OBVIOUSLY, something outside traumatized the poor kid. But what?

I formed a mental checklist of suspects. The neighbors weren't home, so that eliminated a whole host of possibilities. Could it be the pile of pine needles that my husband had raked up the previous day? No, the only thing Lainey enjoys more than Goldfish crackers is digging into a big pile of something that will be impossible to clean out of her clothes (think sap). A dog? A raccoon? Miley Cyrus? Nothing seemed quite right...until....

BUGS! That had to be it. I had to ask delicately, for I didn't want to lose my once-in-a-lifetime cuddle. "Lainey?" I started, "Are you scared of something?" "Yes Lainey scared." Ok, I decided, enough small talk. "Are you scared of a bug?" . She started to whimper again, so I reassured her that bugs lived outside and that none would be in her room so we ought to go take a nap. Much to my surprise, it worked.

Another toddler mystery solved. The goddess in me prevails again.