Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I Can Stand the Heat

So I haven't posted yet today because I have been cooking. I'm making one of the Engineers favorite dinners, and it takes a lot of simmering and adding this and that and generally keeps me busy for a few hours. Next time I will probably try something easier, that still tastes homemade. Saw this recipe for zesty minestrone on the Kraft Foods site (check the "health and home" resources). Looks like after a lot of chopping with the food processor, I could just turn on the slow cooker and go out shopping!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Top 5 Gadgets for Moms on Monday

So it's Monday on Cool Moms Rule, and we're looking at the latest gadgets, with a twist: the items featured here are designed to make Mom's lives easier (and none too soon, if you ask me). We're hoping to make this a regular feature, since no one deserves a little stress-reduction more than a Mom.

First, let's take a look at something for you Moms of young children, specifically the pre-school years. You may not be able to afford a new Wii console for your kids, but you can try out The Weemote 3 Remote Control 21.99, a simple device that comes from such an obvious idea, it's a wonder no one thought of it before now. Kids love toys with buttons, and they are likely to latch onto your remote control as a result, sometimes with disastrous consequences. I remember once when the Owl switched our television language to Spanish and we had a terrible time figuring out how to switch it back! The Weemote lets your child play away with a real working remote that only accesses stations you have pre-approved for your child to watch! What a great idea.

For older children, check out these
Crocheted Cuties Ipod Covers 22.00. Though this item was featured in Teen Magazine, I would expect that 'tween girls would be in raptures over these soft, cuddly ipod covers. And that means they are less likely to misplace that ipod, Moms!

As I've mentioned before, the Rhino is an insatiable reader. The Owl? Could not care less. As an avid reader myself, this saddens me. As a parent, I deal with it with the help of this next gadget. Our children are required to spend a half-hour every night reading. They can choose anything; novels, magazines, comic books, whatever. Mark My Time Bookmarks 8.95 keep track of those thirty minutes. The Owl approves because he doesn't feel he has wasted a single extra minute reading. The Rhino likes to see just how much more reading he has done than his older brother (everything is a competition with brothers). And Mom just likes that they are reading! These bookmarks also work great for busy Moms on a schedule; if you know you have just twenty minutes until the next doctor's appointment, you can set the timer and let it count down for you without worrying you will be late with the latest Harry Potter (Book 7 comes out in July, by the way!.

A bit more whimsical, and surely designed with families of teens in mind, is the Skull Toaster 32.95, a good way to get your teen to eat at least a little breakfast before dashing out the door in the morning.

Finally, a gadget for Moms to watch out for simply because there is no way you want to let this thing into your house. Honestly, this one's just plain disgusting! The Pimped Out Toilet recently reported on WESH News allows you to:

take care of business while notching a new high score on your PlayStation. However, video games are just the beginning. This toilet sports a DVD player and a even a beer tap. Everything is at arms length, including a Velcro strap for all of the remote controls.


You can check out all these gadgets on one page here: My Google Shared Stuff today

Sunday, February 25, 2007

You've Got to Be Kidding Me!

Recently, at the excellent Blogher website, I ran across an interesting post from Suzanne Reisman. The subject?

The latest brouhaha is over the use of the word scrotum in a children’s book, and the number of librarians who have thus banned the book from their public shelves. According to The New York Times, in The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron, the main character, a 10 year old girl named Lucky, overhears someone telling another person about how his dog was bit by a rattlesnake on the scrotum.

That's right, this book is being banned because of the use of the word--gasp!-- scrotum.

Never mind that there is no sexual connotation. Never mind that the scrotum in question (OOOh! I used the bad word!) is that of a dog, for heaven's sake. Obviously, our children need to be protected from...umm...dry, analytical anatomical terms for body parts.

You've got to be kidding me! Do you know WHY the librarians are banning this book? Out of embarrassment! It seems that too many of them are being asked to identify what a scrotum is, and, rather than explain that it is part of the male anatomy that is extremely sensitive to pain, especially rattlesnake bites, and leave it at that, they would simply rather ban the book.

These are librarians, for heaven's sake! Aren't they the ones that are supposed to be fighting AGAINST banning books?! At the very least, you would think that they would want some job security. Seriously, though, are we really so puritanical a nation that our librarians can't say the word--here I go again--scrotum without having hysterics?

My first reaction to this article was, as you can see, frank astonishment. And then outrage that otherwise unobjectionable reading material should be banned for the use of ONE WORD.

My second reaction is to want to go out and buy the damned book.

So, if you feel the same, here's a link to the book in question. I can't say whether the book is good or not until I've read it; all I know is, and you have been warned, it contains the word scrotum.

Buy the book at Amazon

Friday, February 23, 2007

Mom, I fell down (again)

I have two sons. You mothers of two or more children will understand me when I say that after the first child, I thought I had it all down. I figured I would be so much more calm with the second child. I would not worry all the time. I would not second-guess myself all the time. Knowing my first boy as well as I did, surely the second child would be a breeze.

I see you out there nodding. Yes, you are saying to yourself. I thought that, too.

And then my second boy came along. And he was different.

Oh, I expected him to be a different person, of course. Different hair, different eyes, a different combination of my spouse and myself resulting in a new little person.

But everything was different!

For instance, my first son didn't want to eat. From the time he was a baby, he would rather sleep than breast or bottle feed. We used to have to set a time to wake him up every two hours. And, of course, being new parents, we asked ourselves, "Is that two hours from when he is DONE eating, or from when he STARTS eating?" Because he could take a half hour to slurp down a few ounces. He's still a picky eater to this day.

So I expected things to be the same with my second child. I was prepared for him to be a reluctant eater.

Instead, he came out of the womb with his mouth open, already wailing to be fed. Sometimes he would eat so much, so quickly, he would make himself sick. We had to angle his crib so that his head was higher than his stomach, so that after he had a bottle he wouldn't immediately spit it back up.

My oldest son, the picky eater, had constant weigh-ins, where he scored in the bottom ten percent for height and weight on the dreaded growth charts. We had to get him to drink Carnation Instant Breakfast milkshakes.

My youngest? He was off the chart. Above the curve!

There were other differences, of course, too. In so many ways, my boys were diametrically opposed. One loves reading (like his Mom) and spends late nights voraciously devouring books by the authors he already favors. The other considers reading a necessary evil, a chore attempted only when his school requires him to research a project or give a presentation or write a book report. Whenever possible, he tries to make one book serve several purposes, across classes.

My oldest boy is slow to trust others, socially cautious and introspective. He's perpetually cool without trying and surprisingly popular with the girls because he is so nonchalant they see him as a challenge. He likes smart girls and has little patience with kids outside his self-decreed "geeky" group.

In contrast, My youngest son will confidently stride into a group of children at the playground whom he has never met before without a qualm. Within a half hour, he will have them organized in a game of kickball or soccer, he will know all their names, and they will now all be his friends. He is optimistic, exuberant and extroverted. The girls in his life are all tomboys who know how to play soccer as well as he does.

In fact, the only thing they really have in common, other than gaming (which the whole family enjoys) on xbox or playstation or the computer, is that they're both boys.

Which means, and you Moms out there are nodding again, they play rough.

Boys like to wrestle, to poke at each other with anything even remotely sticklike, (their "sword"), to shoot each other with toy guns or water guns or even straws bent in half, to chase each other madly around the house, dive after each other in the pool, pummel each other in the back seat of the car.

But even here, there is a difference.

While my oldest is nimble as a monkey, striking out quickly and then running away, laughing, before his brother sometimes even knows what hits him, his little brother is not so fortunate.

Granted, "little" is a relative term--he's still well above the curve in terms of height and weight. So when he does catch his older brother, it's a pretty fair fight before Mom or Dad wades in and separates them.

But my youngest still has a disadvantage.

He falls. He stumbles. His clothes are covered in grass stains. His shirts have rips. His socks are almost perpetually grey.

This is not because I don't launder the clothes. (I don't, near as much as I should, but that's not why!). It's because my youngest is a Faller.

Ever since he was young, he was that boy in the playground with his knees scraped. He's the one that goes to the clinic so often with a bruise from recess that the nurse knows him by name. He's the kid who always has a new bandage to show off.

On his health card, at kindergarten, I tried to find a way to frame this once. Concerned because I wouldn't be there to protect him for the first time, I wrote that my son "can be klutzy sometimes."

His teacher shook her head, smiling at me, when she read this. "All boys have their tumbles," she said. Meanwhile looking me over to see, I am sure, whether or not I was some hideous abuser seeking to hide her son's bruises with this lame cover-up attempt.

Two weeks later, she called me at home.

"I think I know what you mean," she told me. "If there is an ant hill, he is the one who will fall over it and get bitten by ants. If there is a crack in the pavement, he finds it. He's the only one in the class who trips almost every day. It's almost uncanny!"

And it really is.

My neighbors still remember the day we were, after Christmas, disposing of our Christmas tree. We live on a wide, arcing street, and my son comes running (probably away from his older brother) down the road. The tree was on the side of the road, in the grass, bundled up, at least a yard from the edge of the curve. You couldn't help but notice the tree was there--after all, it was a 6-foot tall Douglas fir lying on its side in a spot where there is usually NOTHING.

Yep, he fell over it. He actually ran off the road and somsersaulted right over the thing.

And, let me make it clear, he didn't do it on purpose. Even though he helped to carry the Christmas tree out himself, he was completely unaware. The astonished look on his face, "Wow, there's a tree here???!" is a treasured part of the story. We love this boy as much for his predictable foibles as we do for his sunny disposition and perpetually optimistic nature.

But I do wish he would grow out of this falling thing. I don't want to see him seriously hurt from one too many falls. I don't want him going to the hospital with a concussion or a broken leg or arm to go with the broken collarbone he got from (you guessed it) tripping and falling on his shoulder.

So if any of you Moms out there have some tips for me on how to deal with this, please let me know.

I'm running out of clean laundry.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Mac vs PC (click me!) Love Those New Ads?


Well, do you? Because I bet your kids know all about YouTube. And if you don't, you are really missing out on a great resource.

In case you've been living in a cave, It's a video posting site. Vids are categorized by subject, by popularity, by keywords...you name it.

What makes YouTube unique is that it's completely free, which enables kids from all over the world (and adults, too) to view the latest in news, music, celebrity gossip, all things bizarre, smart, funny and hip. If your kids are talking about it, chances are you can find a video about it at YouTube.

Some of the more popular and memorable videos in recent weeks include those Diet Coke and Mentos guys who create moveable fountains of spurting, foaming soda put to music; variations on the incredibly popular "Mac vs Windows" television commercials; and the latest shots of Britney Spears shaving her head, getting tattooed and checking into rehab.

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We know that there is no such thing as a Perfect Mom–in fact, sometimes just being a Mom can be overwhelming. We know that a sense of humor and a little ingenuity can get us through a lot. We know our kids don’t have to be straight A students, Olympic athletes or the next President of the United States (thank God!) to be successful. We know that we’re their parents, not their friends, even though we love who they’ve become. We make an effort to understand and appreciate our kids’ interests. And, as smart, educated women, we have interests of our own.
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