Tag Archives: parenting

Grocery Shoppers: An Analysis

The Super Bowl is this Sunday, and even if you don’t car a whit because the 49ers aren’t in it (sniff…) everyone should be extra cautious with their decisions about grocery shopping over the next few days. Seriously, if you don’t need deli meats or soda, DON’T go down those aisles. They’ll be filled with people wearing oversized jerseys and ugly slide sandals. But really, if you’re a parent, you always have to strategize about shopping. When you choose to go to the store can mean the difference between zipping through with your smartphone list, or banging your head on a germ-filled cart as you wait in line behind the lady who is sure those Lipton iced teas were a two-for-one.

So that you may shop at the best time for your personality, I give you “Who Goes Shopping When.”

Who Goes Shopping When:

  • Friday morning – Stay-at-home moms; old ladies paying with checks.
  • Friday afternoon – Harried parents who realized there’s nothing in the fridge and whose kids are pissed off to be shopping after a long week at school.
  • Friday night – Teenagers inappropriately dressed for winter; men who might be homeless.
  • Saturday morning – Dads and their kids, ruthlessly kicked out of the house by mom; oenophiles prepping for their dinner party tonight.
  • Saturday afternoon – Leisurely childless couples.
  • Saturday night – Partiers buying liquor; dateless singles buying the single-serving mini bottles of wine and a prepared stuffed chicken breast; defeated men buying tampons.
  • Sunday morning – Extremely efficient moms who follow the exact same path through the store each week; heathens.
  • Sunday midday – The people who were in church this morning, wearing their finery.
  • Sunday afternoon – People with no sense of urgency who park in the middle of the aisle trying to think of what they want; moms who think shopping should be a family experience; couples married more than five years who bicker over pasta brands.

Good luck, and good Super Bowl.


Mommy Terror Alerts

Image: Office of Homeland Security

This has been a busy and stressful month, and I figured rather than continue to blindly subject my loved ones to my (seemingly random) rages, I should help millions of families and develop a Mommy Terror Alert System. It’s for your own protection.

Terror Alert Threat Level 1: Mommy gets very fidgety. Foot tapping, inability to sit still (well, if she were ever allowed to sit still), etc. Mommy makes lists in this phase. Long, impossible-to-accomplish lists.

Level 2: Mommy eats. Constantly. She is actually unable to stop herself. It may be salty, it may be sweet, but if she is seen shoveling snacks into her pie hole, keep your distance.

Level 3: Mommy stops eating. While less obvious, she is far more dangerous than overeating Mommy.

Level 4: Mommy frets over world peace and missing socks simultaneously. This may also be referred to as “intense overreaction.” May manifest as Mommy stomping through the house ranting about how nobody in this place helps her clean — and before you know it she is losing her mind over how you’re going to pay for college since obviously she’s going to have to quit her job to stay home and pick up everyone’s stupid JUNK AND OH BY THE WAY I GUESS I’LL BE A SHORT-ORDER COOK WHILE I’M AT IT! THERE ARE STARVING CHILDREN, YOU KNOW! This stage is extremely dangerous, as one wrong look from a loved one can push her over into…

Level 5: Crying. While insisting everything is fine.

Use Caution: While Mommy may progress through the stages in an orderly fashion, in times of extreme crisis–like a child refusing to sleep after Mommy has just done five back-to-back loads of laundry and has two hours of work to get done and there’s no bread for sandwiches tomorrow–she may skip levels.

What you can do: Uh, how about don’t piss her off. But if you must piss her off, you can help lower the terror alert level by A) Agreeing with her no matter what she says, and B) cleaning. Seriously, people, make your beds and mommy might just avoid a mental breakdown for one more day.

We Should Bring Sally’s Music to the World

Remember when they had those CD commercials on TV where you could buy the Greatest Hits from the ’80s, or ’70s, or punk, or funk, or whatever? Sally’s songwriting has been so prolific over the past four years, I think we could put out her own record. Buy it now and you can enjoy The Best of Sally over and over! Hits including…

One Hundred


My Carrots are Growing [Sun, Water and Love]


You Can Do It

Oh Yeah

The Mac and Cheese Song

The Theme to: A Prince and Princess Get Married

I Am Gonna Win

Teddy Bear

The Party is Starting

Bubbles are Great

I’m the Dragon King

I’m the Dragon King (reprise): I’m Still a Hula Dancer But I Have a Sword

Today is a Great Day to Touch Your Toes

Parenting on Maui

We took our kid to Maui. We haven’t been on a true vacation in a long time and we figured in Hawaii we could just bury Sally up to her neck in sand and have dinner and drinks before she worked her way out. Perfect. I prepared us well for the long plane flight, the snorkeling, and the possibility that we would damage peoples’ retinas with our blinding whiteness. I did not prepare us for how many animals would provide “teachable moments” during the trip.

THE HAWK: Yes, hawk. Upon take-off, our plane hit a very large bird. It got sucked into the engine. We made an emergency landing. It actually was not at all scary, but we made the news in at least two states. And, major bonus, Sally got to learn how hawk smells when it’s cooking! Truly, you haven’t lived until you’ve been the parent on the plane answering questions (asked very loudly) about how they’ll get the hawk out of the engine: “Do they just pull really hard, Mom? Is it dead? What about the feathers, can they get those out? Will they use a hose to wash it off?!” [Answer: Apparently they start by plucking parts out and putting it into baggies. We didn’t watch after that.]

TOADS: Sally believed the nightly toad appearances outside our condo were pretty cute. Until her mom was the one returning from the laundry room yelling “HOLY mother of …” because she just kicked a cool, slimy guy in the dark with bare feet and freaked herself out.

You will stare at this unmoving turtle and you will express your awe like a woman who has waited 75 years to see such a thing!

SEA TURTLES and WHALES: We saw both. They were awesome. That is, to an adult who realizes what a rarity it is to see these things up close and in their natural habitats. Four year olds? They are not so impressed. “Cool, it’s neat,” she said about the giant sea turtle a mere 10 feet away from us on the beach. And then she ran off and see how much sand she could pack into her swimsuit. After she whined about having to pay attention to the whales, too, I had a nice heart-to-heart scream with her about how unappreciative she was of all these opportunities we give her. And then I realized that I was truly spiritually linked to all parents that have gone before me, because they ALL yelled at their kids for being spoiled ungrateful picky gooey little brats. …It was the ocean and all the relaxing, it really got me in touch with the cosmos…

The MONGOOSE: We almost ran one over. We had to look it up to figure out what it was, because seriously, who really sees mongooses? We learned that it is an invasive, weasel look-a-like species brought to the island to eat rats, but it turns out rats are out at night and the mongoose is out during the day, so instead it has eaten most of the lovely birds on Maui. Basically, it’s a small animal that seemed like a good idea, but then didn’t actually solve any problems, and managed to ruin a lot of the best stuff about life. And I couldn’t help but think, hmmm, why does that sound familiar…

The WILD CAT: The “wild cat” was a seven-pound stray that routinely visited our back door looking for food and scared the KUH-RAP out of Sally because she heard it was “wild.” And therefore might rip her limb from limb, one presumes. One evening after she climbed my leg like it was a coconut tree, screeching in terror at Satan himself—who, if you didn’t know, frequently takes the form of a domestic shorthair—I decided enough was enough. I went outside, squatted down and stuck my arm out. “Look, honey, it’s just a stray cat. It’s probably not used to being pet and that’s why we leave him alone, but it’s probably actually a really nice cat.” At which point, the cat bit my wrist, hard, and then hissed at me in a way that I still think he might actually have been a rabid wolf. So, logically, I screamed, “Never mind, it’s not a nice cat! It’s not a nice cat!” and locked us in the house. Brilliant parenting on all counts.

Now we’re back from paradise. And we’re pretty sad about it. But as long as I don’t start foaming at the mouth, we should be okay.

Super Sally and Stupid Mommy to the Rescue

Next week is spirit week at Sally’s school. You know, beach day, hat day, stuff like that. Sally is beside herself with happiness. She’s been waiting for pajama day since she was born. But after a brief dance party in celebration, she looked at the day after pajama day.

Superhero Day.

“Well…I want to be a nice superhero, like maybe Word Girl.” Cool beans. Word Girl is a PBS show about a girl who has super vocabulary powers. I can dig it. AND I can get the costume for $24.99. So WHY I opened my huge, obnoxious, idiotic (yet cavity-free) mouth, I will never understand.

“Sure, Word Girl would be great. But you know, you could also be your own superhero, like Super Sally or something.”

“YYYEEEESSSSS!” Oh my goodness, veins are popping out of her neck. “I want to be Super Sally! YEAH! Can I design my costume?”

“Um. Sure, go for it.” Stupid, idiotic, rookie mom!

After she explained that those things on the sleeves are “details,” she gave me a sad stare. “Mommy. How are YOU going to make this? Can we have E’s mommy make it?” E’s mommy is a professional costume designer, so my suckage level is astronomical next to her. Unfortunately, E’s mommy also recently had the nerve to move halfway around the world. So Sally is stuck with me, a woman who gets  excited when she can cut a piece of fleece into a square.

But I am nothing if not a confident faker, so I boldly announced this would be simple, and got supplies (which, it should be noted, cost twice what the Word Girls costume would have). The hard part, I figured, would be the cape, since I’d need to actually make it. I was informed that there exists a magical substance that allows you to iron seams rather than sew them. WHAT?! Where has this been all my life? I’ll tell you where: blowing smoke up someone’s keester. I’d have better success melting some legos and using them to glue the seams.  I announced to the Embee tribe: “It doesn’t work. I’m going to have to sew it.”

They stared at me with that special blank look that is reserved for times when the Mom of the house is about to do something that everyone else in the house knows will lead to World War III.

And to them I say, EAT DIRT! I have produced a superhero costume reasonably close to Sally’s design, with a HAND-SEWN cape (someday I’ll grasp how a sewing machine even works…), sequin stripe on the leggings and sparkly “S” emblazoned on the Old Navy shirt. And if you stand back 10 feet and squint, it looks pretty rockin’. But the best part is that when Sally puts it on, she actually becomes Super Sally–who, FYI, “flies, fights crime and helps people.” I’m constantly crying for Super Sally to help me spell a word or tell me which utensil to use for pasta. I don’t know how we ever survived before we had a superhero in the family.

Materials: $50, Labor: three nights of indigestion, Seeing your mom way too proud of herself: Priceless

I wish I could be nonchalant, like Batman’s Alfred, but I can’t. I’m awesome! Right? I’ve created a Superhero, for Pete’s sake! I might need to call other parents after Superhero Day to give them the opportunity to tell me how fantastic I am my kid’s costume was. Oh, and Sally says it is perfect. And this superhero is not known for her sugar-coating powers.

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Sometimes the Hardest Part is Closing the Door

Sally has become unaffectionately known as The Insomniac. She’s never been a bad sleeper exactly, just a delicate one. As a baby, she didn’t sleep in the car or the stroller. She needed the right blankets in bed. But these days it seems worse: the temperature must be just so, the dream catcher must be mystically turned on. If she sleeps for 20 minutes and wakes, she’s done. Even if that’s at 9:00 at night and you are so tired you flirt with the idea of giving her booze to knock her out.

But at age 4, this delicate sensibility mostly manifests itself in her having trouble falling asleep. Many a night have I lay on her pergo bedroom floor, bruising my hips and trying to catch a cat nap as she browses the entire collection of Disney Fairy novels until she’s tired enough to sleep. She hates being alone when she can’t sleep. And she’s fidgety. She might have restless leg syndrome. I come up with a lot of theories when I’m stuck in her room as she tosses and turns. But eventually, she DOES fall asleep. And then I have to get out. Without. Disturbing. A Single. Solitary. Molecule.

Since I now have spent as much time escaping the clutch of my child as doctors spend in medical school, I have developed some expertise. Here are my tips for How to Exit A Child’s Room Without Waking Her:

* Get to the floor: Hopefully you started on the floor. Because if you are in her bed, you must first disentangle. If this is the case, make your breathing very shallow and lift your head and any limbs that are free so that as much mattress as possible is absent of your weight. You are now basically levitating as much as humanly possible without involving a ouija board. Stay like that until she moves some part of her body. (This could be difficult since your ab muscles likely came out with your placenta a few years ago.) When she shifts, you slither off the bed. Try not to make noise as you hit the floor.
**If she wakes: Tell her you were just getting a pillow and try to assume a position that makes it impossible for her to put you in a headlock, because if she does that, you’re spending the night with sour milk breath in your face.

* Freeze: Once you’ve gotten off the bed, stay exactly where you are for at least 30 seconds to allow any disruption you have caused to pass and her breathing to even out again. Slowly stand. Hopefully you’ve spent some time with your body and know which joints crack. If you are me and sound like a freaking microwave bag of Orville Redenbacher, just try to time movements with creaks in the house or the heater clicking on. Be prepared to freeze in place at any moment as you approach the door. Step toe-to-heel, à la cartoon bank robber.
**If she wakes: You were getting a blanket. Return to floor.

*Open the door: SLOWLY. Do not let any animals run in, or you’ll end up mouthing curse words at them while they stare blankly at you from across the room, and that’s a bit depressing.
**If she wakes: The kitties wanted to say goodnight. Return to floor and next time crawl out so you can catch wildlife.

All that stands between you and the sweet freedom of eating leftover brownies on the couch.

*Close the door: This is often the most difficult task — children have a strange sixth sense that alerts them to your aura moving outside of a protective radius. Damned kids. Turn the door handle completely, until it reaches it’s stopped position. Brace you other hand on the door jam, as it helps to pretend you have control over a load-bearing wall. Moving silently and without producing any breeze, close the door while continuing to hold knob in its turned position. As door meets jam, grimace like an Olympic weight lifter. Hold breath. Pull  door firmly closed and hold in pulled position while slowly releasing the knob. Failure to do this will result in the latch clicking, which will sound like a freaking bomb explosion after all this silence and result in your spouse whispering “AMATEUR!” at you with disgust on his face.
*If she wakes: You’re screwed. She knows you were sneaking out. Go brush your  teeth and do the walk of shame back to her room, where you will spend the night.

Not Now Honey, Barbie Needs Her Margarita

I wanted to do a post about Barbie, because at Christmas Sally got her first set of double-Ds, and I felt weird about it and wanted to talk it through. So I thought, and thought, and the more I thought, the more confused I got about the whole thing. Is she good or evil? Is she teaching my kid to want a hot bod? (Sally WAS very excited that Barbie had “all the parts.”) And if so, is that all bad? I mean, I want a hot bod! Maybe Sally will be motivated to get a hot bod when she’s 33 instead of just talk about them.

And for goodness sake, we own astronaut Barbie. She’s a highly educated and professional woman. Who wears heels in space, but that’s her prerogative. Anyway, I’ve decided Barbie is okay. At her core, she’s got a pencil-sized waist a toy that doesn’t beep, sing the ABCs or scream “LET’S PLAY A GAME!” after you leave her alone for 30 seconds. She’s a simple doll. Sally has to use her imagination to come up with scenarios for her. And Sally’s scenarios are pretty awesome.

The real problem with Barbie . . . is the margaritas.

Our Barbie and Ken live in a Mattel beach vacation house. This house is puh-ritty cool. There’s a chandelier. There’s a big screen TV. There’s an adorable pink and purple kitchen where Ken makes pancakes every morning, and a shower he can barely squeeze his impossibly hard body into. Delicious. …The pancakes! Stop it. (wink)

But when Barbie gets thirsty, what has Mattel given her? A blender and two margarita glasses. WHAT?! So, okay, first of all, SO wrong. My 4-year-old is playing house and we’re gonna get everyone liquored up? After I’ve spent time hunting down wholesome handmade Barbie outfits so that she doesn’t look like a cheaper version of a Jersey Shore girl?

Ah, the pre-baby days.

Second, the margaritas (don’t worry, I told Sally they were smoothies) really, really mess up Barbie’s judgement. She met Ken randomly one night and just because the guy was in a tux, she was all leaning into him and blurting out “Lez get married and have babies!”

Ken’s nothing if not smooth, so he was like “Sure sweet thang, whatever you want.” Little did he know Sally had the authority to marry them ON THE SPOT. Short ceremony, too, consisting of: “You may kiss the bride!” [kiss] “Oh no, my baby is coming out!”

You tell me with a straight face that KEN is the dad.

And then Barbie immediately gave birth to Strawberry Shortcake. Who, A) should have those cankles looked at, and B) has red hair and doesn’t look a thing like Ken. I don’t want to break up a home or anything, but I’m just saying, Ken’s best friend is a redhead, and with all the tequila banana smoothie flowing in that house, I’m suspicious.

Then it’s time for Ken to go to work and Strawberry to go to school because Barbie can’t deal. Ken asks if SHE is going to work, too, and she always says, “No, I’m just going to stay home.” And eat the bowl of Doritos provided by Mattel. AND DRINK SMOOTHIES. Ken has to do drop-off and pick-up for a kid who’s probably not even his; go to work; replace light bulbs; and fix the stairs in a beach house they totally cannot afford on one salary–and the man still makes pancakes every morning. I’m not going to get into what all this will eventually do to Barbie’s slowing mommy metabolism. Anyhow, Barbie is content to dry her hair; go potty; move the furniture around; and make sure Ken is staying in his own bed at night.

And drink smoothies.

Is Barbie twisting my child’s brain? I think she was just born that way. Is she ruining Sally’s life? I don’t know, Sally seems to have figured out how to get a man to do everything so she can kick back, which is more than most of us ever accomplish. Plus, I’m pretty sure this blog will ruin her life way before Barbie’s size zero body does.