Sunday, November 25, 2007

"hu hu hoo-ked on pa pa pawn-icks wurk-ed for meh"

Have you guys seen the commercial for the new Hooked on Phonics product that's supposed to make preschoolers learn read? If you haven't, here it is. Watch closely and then we will discuss. (Honestly, I have no idea why someone took the time to put this commercial on youtube, but I'm glad they did so I could show you exactly what I'm talking about.)

First of all, what is with the mom?! Could she be any more smug? What's with the "I'm better than all ya all" attitude she has? Just because her "just turned 4" year old can read makes her think she's mother of the year? Did you see how they portrayed her? And how all the other mothers in the commercial were told to act like they felt inadequate because their little morons weren't even close to reading? What ever happened to preschool just being about finger painting and learning to play nice with other kids? Now our kids have to learn to read by the time they are 4 too?!

Seriously, it's products and commercials like this that irritate the bad words out of me. It's great if your kid is interested in reading and learning but what on earth is the rush? If they are truly ready to learn to read, they won't need some $129 product to help them out. And what is going to happen to your hooked on phonics prodigy when they are in 1st grade and bored out of their skull because they aren't learning with the rest of the class? They are going to learn to hate school and then start to get into trouble because they aren't being challenged. Sure, they might be able to go to a different class for reading, but that isn't always the best option, either. Besides that, for every 4 year old that can read, that is one more expectation on a 4 year old who can't read, and one more label for the "stupid" kid, who is really learning right where he should be, but no one will see that because he isn't on the same level as the "smart" kid.

Plus, that's one more expectation on parents who are already overwhelmed and stressed out with all of the burdens of everyday life. The last thing they have time or patience for is to try to force their THREE YEAR OLD to learn to read. I can see it now... W is going to get to kindergarten and I'm going to be standing next to a couple of moms as we are waiting to pick our kids up and the conversation is going to go like this:

"Aw, look at my sweet little Ava. Isn't she perfect? You know, she's been reading since she was 18 months old and she speaks 4 languages."

"Yeah, well my little Jack has been doing long division since he was 2 and he can recite the Periodic Table of the Elements."

((Heads turn and look at me))
"Oh. See that kid over there eating mud? Yeah, he's mine."

I'm sorry but there's no way in heck that I'm going to deprive my kid the joys of being a kid and doing kid stuff just so I can feel better about myself as a mother. I have never understood this "my kids have to be the first and best at everything" mentality. It just makes me nuts and I feel bad for the kids involved.

Part of me is really curious to see how this product really works though. I'm wondering if it actually teaches the kids to read, or if they just end up memorizing the exercises from all of the repetition so it looks like the can read.

BTW, for those of you wondering what is up with the title of this entry, do yourselves a favor and ask Santa to put Brian Regan Live in your stocking this year. You will laugh until you have to change your pants.

Monday, November 12, 2007


A few days ago, I went shopping with CB while W was taking a nap. I got a spa pedicure, went to Target, and then I had to stop at Bed Bath and Beyond. As I was walking out of BB&B, I wasn't paying much attention. I tend to do this a lot while walking. I guess it is one of the consequences of being blond. It's hard to do 2 things at once. Walking and thinking is just too much for me. I relearned this the hard way as I was jerked out of my day dream and back to reality from this excruciating pain in my foot. The pain started small and then quickly grew until I was almost crying. It was a weird pain that I had never felt before.

I immediately thought that I must have stepped on a hypodermic needle so I looked down to make sure there wasn't one sticking out of my foot and then I saw it. A bee. I had been stung by a bee. First of all, what is a bee doing on the asphalt? This is why I don't do nature. Nature hurts you. A parking lot is not nature. The bee shouldn't have been there! I don't invade its territory and hit its hive with sticks, so it should stay out of my territory and leave me alone! Fair is fair! Common courtesy is so lost these days.

Anyway, I'm 25 years old and had never been stung before. Because I had never been stung before, I didn't know if I was allergic or not and proceeded to freak out and overreact accordingly because bee allergies run in both side of my family.

Of course, because I was freaking out, my heart started to race and I started having trouble breathing. I tried to rationalize and figure out what to do because I was sure I only had 60 seconds to live. Don't ask me where I got this number from. I'm sure it's something I thought I learned in 7th grade biology. Since in my mind I only had 60 seconds to live, I needed to think fast and figure out what to do with the baby. I limped as fast as possible to the car and tried to put her in her carseat. I didn't want her to fall out so I had to buckle her in, which caused a huge screaming fit, but that was good. At least she would draw attention if I became unconscious.

Then I called my sister, who was supposed to be nearby, to come and help me out, but she was too cool to answer my call so I called my parents. Since I had only 30 seconds to live now, I was trying to talk fast, which made it so no one could understand me. I wasted 15 seconds repeating myself and then my dad finally told me what to do. I had to go get a knife and flick the stinger out of my foot. Ok, sure. Where in the heck was I going to get a knife? Unfortunately, I had forgotten to put my switch blade back in diaper bag after I had cleaned it in a fit of boredom the night before. Then as the world started to spin from me hyperventilating, I saw the 25 foot sign and remembered that I had just come out of Bed Bath and Beyond. Duh! That place sells knives. Awesome. But, there was no way I was going to hobble my dumb butt in there. My foot hurt too much and I couldn't leave the baby. I didn't want to walk with her in my arms because if I fell, she was coming with me. She's too pretty to have road rash.

So I flagged down some unfortunate woman who made the bad decision of parking next to me. She must have thought I was downright insane because I yelled at her to come to me and when she did, I handed her a wad of cash and asked her to go buy me a knife, just like I was some 17 year old kid standing outside a liquor store asking someone to buy me cigs and booze. Then, before she went inside and called the cops, I realized it was probably a good idea to explain that I wasn't a crazed, red faced and nearly hysterical woman who was going to go stab her ex's new lover but I had been stung by a bee and needed to remove the stinger.

A few minutes later, I was still breathing and had calmed down a bit after finding that my death wasn't imminent. The girl still wasn't back and I figured she had decided that stealing my $6 was more fun than helping a stranger in need. But she finally came out of the store with an accomplished look on her face. Apparently, people don't need single knives these days. They only need $300 sets of knives. This poor girl couldn't find a knife that wasn't in a set except for a knife for spreading cheese and a grapefruit knife. So she bought both. I chose to use the grapefruit knife because it looked more menacing. I was going to get that stinger even if I had to ruin my nice smooth feet and gouge the thing out. Thankfully, the 3mm stinger was removed with a slight flick of the wrist and it didn't even hurt.

By then, my sister, who happened to be in the store next to me the entire time, showed up just to delight in my misery and laugh at me. I still maintain it hurt second only to getting a cavity filled before the novocaine has taken effect. I did get my revenge, though. My sister gleefully stomped out the bee that had caused me so much pain. Before you call PETA to report us, consider the fact that we did the bee a favor, as it was already on its way to the big bee hive in the sky. We just hastened the process.

I now know that I could have used a credit card to get the thing out, but that would have been easy and everyone knows that I don't do things the easy way. Funny thing, though... I could have spared humbling myself and asking for help if I had just opened my eyes and saw the plastic knife that was sitting on the passenger seat that came with the grilled chicken breast I had ordered 20 minutes earlier.

Friday, November 9, 2007

pimp my ride, much?

Today I had to take CB to get x-rays done on her hips. Since she isn't mobile and often looks like a frog, they want to be sure her hip joints are in the sockets. Anyway, when we were walking out of the hospital, this car was behind me and the music was really loud. I hate that. I find it totally disrespectful and REALLY annoying.

I don't want to hear about how you smack your hos or how you kill your bros. I don't want to hear about your milkshake or how you spend your g's. I really don't like the sound of an electric guitar and I don't like my children being exposed to death metal. I don't want my inner ear bones to rattle to the point that my vision blurs and I do like hearing clearly out of both ears.

I don't care about free speech, blah blah blah. This has nothing to do with free speech. It's my right not to have to listen to things that I find to be garbage. It's your right to listen to things that I find to be garbage in the comfort of your own home or car in a manner that doesn't pollute the earth with more useless and unnecessary noise. Blast your ears out if you want to, just don't make me take part.

So when this particular car was behind me, blasting this obscene music as loud as possible, in a hospital parking lot no less, I naturally turned to give the driver a death glare, and quite possibly the bird if I felt so inclined, and it was then that I became confused. The windows of the truck were all rolled up. So how on earth could the music be coming out so clear? External speakers. WHAT THE HECK?! Is that really necessary? Is this what the world is coming to? This is just out of control.

Monday, November 5, 2007

who needs saturday morning cartoons...

...when you can go help your grandfather wash the truck and then play in the puddles? Seriously, every mom should be as cool as me. Not every kid gets to play in mud in their pajamas. I'm not sure he's ever had this much fun before. And, please take note of the awesome habla boots. :D

Thursday, November 1, 2007

well on my way

I'm sorry for the lack of posting lately. The truth is, I've been working on this post for the past few days. It's one that is important to me and I want to get it just right.

This weekend, I began my quest in becoming a doula. For those of you who don't know what a doula is and are thinking that this means I'm going to become someone who raises 3 legged mythical creatures with wings or makes concoctions to heal the sick, I will explain what a doula is.

A doula is a woman who provides labor support to an expectant mother and her partner. She supports the mother during labor by suggesting various coping techniques and by providing constant emotional support. She also provides the expectant parents with resources and information so they can make informed decisions about their birth. The goal is to have a positive birth experience. There have been 15 studies done about the benefits of having a doula and all of them have concluded that having a doula present at a birth is very beneficial and helps ensure a healthy mom and a healthy baby. You can read more about the benefits of a doula here.

I've been studying about birth since I was pregnant with W. It quickly became a passion and while I was pregnant with CB, it almost became an obsession. After my birth experience with W, I was determined to have a better experience with CB and I read every book and went to every website possible to get every word of knowledge to make it happen for me.

With the help of a doula, the overall outcome of W's birth was what I wanted: a natural, unmedicated birth. However, his labor and delivery were filled with a lot of stress, a lot of intervention, and a lot of fear and rightfully so, as my little acrobat had managed to tie a true knot in his cord and had then managed to wrap the cord around his neck 3 times and his ankle once. He ended up being fine after he was born, but I was not. I was extremely upset by what had happened and I felt like no one listened to me or even cared about what I had just gone through. When I would tell his birth story, everyone would immediately say, "Well, he's fine and that's all that matters." But, that isn't all that mattered. I mattered too. It was my birth. My experience. My emotions. My reality. It happened to me.

In the days following his birth, after being bullied and treated poorly by people who are supposed to love and care for you, I shut down. The week after he was born was literally the worst week of my life. I couldn't enjoy my child and I didn't trust anyone. I felt so alone and so scared because here I had this little 5 pound baby who could have died and I was the person who was responsible for him. But I couldn't even take care of myself. How was I supposed to take care of him? Throughout all of this, the only person who I felt could truly empathize and understood how I felt was the doula who had attended W's birth. She was my saving grace and the person who kept me from going off the deep end.

Thankfully, CB's birth was amazing and what I needed to help heal from W's birth. With her birth, I was able to realize how sacred and special giving birth really is. After CB was born, I felt like I was in a place where I could stop being sad about W's birth experience and angry about how it had been robbed from me. I also realized how strongly I felt about my belief that every woman is entitled to a good birth experience and that I wanted to be someone to help facilitate this. That is when I started looking into becoming a doula.

This weekend of training was the most challenging and emotional process I have gone through in a long time. As we were listening to so many birth stories and watching so many birth videos, I started to realize how much trouble I really have with the American way of birthing babies. It has become such a medical procedure and women are treated like a sick person and a product and not the beautiful, powerful and strong beings that they are. Giving birth shouldn't be scary or feared. Instead, it should be celebrated and embraced.

I'm not saying that everyone needs to have a birthing candle and give birth in the middle of the forest. But I do believe that women need to have a calm environment to labor in. I believe that women should be supported and cared for by the people they love. However, I have a problem with the "spectator sport" that giving birth has become. Even if the mother isn't in pain and is feeling good, all of the attention should be on the her and the job she is doing. Giving birth, in any way, is hard work work. It bothers me when the mother's needs and desires aren't put first.

I also think it has become the standard to have a bad birth experience. The majority of women you talk to when you get pregnant are eager to share their horror stories. It's almost like they think that if they had a bad or hard or scary experience then you will or should have one too. This makes me sad for so many reasons but the main one being most of these experiences could have been turned out a lot better had the mother been educated about all her options and had the doctors let nature take it's course.

We are taught to trust our doctors, but sometimes they can do more harm than good. In 95% of uncomplicated births, the body knows what to do and, if allowed, can do its job without intervention. However, with a 30% and rising c-section rate, this is clearly not reflected in the States. The innate, instinctual aspect of giving birth has been taken away and replaced by a time clock. Women are no longer in control of their births. Their power has been taken away and this is what has made giving birth become such a scary and feared experience. If women were given their power back and allowed to feel that strength that so many women have felt before us, I firmly believe the state of giving birth in America would be so much better than it is. Please take note that I am not bashing doctors and I am not trying to say that doctors are stupid and don't know anything. They serve their purpose and it's a very meaningful and important purpose, especially when there is a real complication. What I am bothered by is the impression that all women are emergencies waiting to happen and that every woman needs to be monitored and "under control" at all times because there is going to be something wrong.

As hard as this training was to do, it is also the best thing I have ever done. I feel like I was born to do this. I now feel like there is a reason that I had to go through the hell of W's birth and that I can turn the negative energy I had into something positive to help others.

I could go on and on about this because it's such a passion of mine, but I will shut up. As I have said all of this, know that I am not judging any one's birth choices. Different people want different things and there is nothing wrong with that. I'm not trying to be a cause or a politician. It is just my desire that everyone have resources to educate themselves and to be supported during this poignant time in their lives.

If anyone has any questions about this, please email me. Also, if you live in my area and are pregnant or know someone who is and wants a doula at their birth, please PLEASE get my info. I need to attend at least 3 births to get certified. You would be helping me out so much and I would love to be able to return the favor by helping you or them have a meaningful and joyous birth experience.