Monday, September 28, 2009

How Much TV is Too Much?

If you're like me, you have a major complex about allowing your child to watch TV - any TV. That said, you readily (but secretly) admit that TV makes your life as a parent That Much Easier. In fact, it's sort of amusing how, before you became a parent, you swore that your child wouldn't watch an ounce of television, eat junk food, or do anything similarly detrimental to his/her development as a wholesome individual. But this is real life, folks, and we all know a person has to keep sane.

So... what's a conscientious (but lazy) parent to do?

The Washington Post today offers a refresher on how much screen time is too much. The bottom line - no more than two hours a day.

Since K. loves (and I mean looooooooves) Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, I try to make up for the fact that I let him watch it twice per day (once while I am showering, and the other time right after bath as a means of "settling down" before bedtime) by reminding myself that we never* go over that two hour limit. Good to get some affirmation from the experts!

*full disclosure: well, ALMOST never...

Friday, September 25, 2009

Miscellaneous Musings

I've been thinking a lot lately about ramping up my business (communications consulting, mostly to nonprofits in the Washington, DC area). Now that Kibi is in school six hours a week, and he is (knock on wood) pretty reliable about naps, I have bigger chunks of time to get some serious writing done. So ... all I have to do is get more clients (as if it were as easy as that).

Anyway, I went on a whirlwind spree on the internet last night, looking up all kinds of freelance writing blogs and sites, and was pleasantly surprised by how much is out there. It all seems to emanate from this wickedly awesome site: Media Bistro. I share this only in case any of you out there are interested in the same line of work that I am (freelance writing and PR).

The other thing I decided last night is that I need to learn WordPress (as you will probably agree by staring so long at the sucky layout of this blog - sorry, Blogspot!)

Soooo... I'm taking an online web writing and editing class which starts next week! As part of the class we will develop our own blogs, so this is when I hope to get my act together and, ultimately, move this blog over to a far more attractive site at WordPress.

I realize that you, dear readers, may care about precisely none of any of the above, but finally getting my entrepreneurial act together excites me in a geeky way, plus I'm operating on lots of caffeine and little sleep and feeling very streamofconsciousness. In any event, I'll keep you posted whether you want to be or not. Ha!

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Off Topic: Netflix is Off Their Game!

I love Netflix. Whenever a new movie comes out that I know there's no way in hell I will be seeing in the theater because, after all, I am the parent of a toddler, I promptly add it to my Netflix queue then sit back and rest assured that I'll catch it the minute it comes out on DVD. For some reason, this process gives me complete peace and serenity.

Anyway, DH was under the weather Sunday night, and I was bored, so after putting Kibi to bed I settled down in my PJs, glass of wine handy, and got ready to watch State of Play. I was totally drawn in - - that is, until about 3/4 of the way into the movie where the DVD promptly pooped out on me. I got it out, rubbed it off, and did all those other things you're not supposed to do when trying to fix a malfunctioning disc. Still, no dice. At precisely the same point in the movie, the DVD just went kablooey.

So, sadly, I shipped the disc off, completed the "report a problem" function on the Netflix website, and waited.

Yesterday Netflix sent me a new State of Play disc - or so I thought. Last night, I was all excited and got ready to watch where I left off. Imagine the stream of curse words that exited my mouth when I got to the EXACT SAME SPOT IN THE MOVIE AND THE DISC STOPPED WORKING AGAIN. At first I thought, "What are the CHANCES!?!?" Then I realized, duh, clearly someone who hadn't had their caffeine yet at Netflix opened up the disc I returned, put it on the top of the "BAD DISCS" pile, and then mistakenly missed the "GOOD DISCS" pile and re-shipped me my bad disc. Right? Because otherwise... well, that's just statistically impossible.

Argh. C'mon Netflix, wake up. I need to see what happens to Congressman Ben Affleck. Don't let me down!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Paved Paradise and Put Up a Parking Lot, Phase 2

I'm too distraught to post much today, because they've started with phase two of the Great Dismantling Of Our Backyard to Make Way for a Bike Path and Sidewalk Project.

Today they're taking down our backyard fence... they'll put up a temporary one until the new fencing that goes along with the project is installed. But for now I guess we can kiss playing in the backyard goodbye, since it would involve Kibi almost literally playing in traffic. Ugh!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Caillou Screed

Caillou, please shut up. You drive me nuts. Seriously, shut up now. Your voice is so irritating.

And what's with that theme song? It makes my ears bleed. It's so nasal-sounding: "Nyah, nyah, n-nyah, n-nyah! Nyah, nyah, n-nyah, n-nyah! Nyah, nyah, n-nyah, n-nyah! Caaaaaaaiiiiiiii-yoooooooo!"

Too bad my kid likes to watch you.

Monday, September 21, 2009


If you're like me, you probably have a much longer "Honeydo" list than a "Honey, thank you!" one. But this past weekend, my dear spouse was so impressingly productive, I thought I should relay to you, dear readers, exactly how thankful I am.

(NOTE: I should add that all good marriage counselors will tell you that the positive feedback is oh-so-important to keeping a marriage happy and healthy. So feel free to follow my lead in your respective households if you like, kind friends ...)

So, back to the Honeythankyou's. In the course of one day - an abnormally chore-filled Sunday - my husband, J., proceeded to do the following:

Replaced a panel of siding that fell off our house during a recent thunderstorm

Fixed one of our bathroom cabinet doors that had been unhinged for WEEKS

Replaced a leaky wax seal and phlange (what the heck are those??) on one of our toilets

Mowed the lawn

Reseeded some dead grass patches in our front lawn

Got 25% of the way through the unenviable task of cleaning our horrendously messy garage
and... the piece de resistance...

Replaced a leaky wax seal and phlange - sic? - (what the heck are those things?) on one of our toilets

Unclogged another toilet*

So, even though he never reads this blog and therefore won't know about this public praise until I tell him... Honey, here's to you for all you do!


*Those of you who know me well that I will do anything -- that's right, ANYTHING -- to get out of doing this most dastardly of deeds. (Remind my college housemates to tell you the story of The Great Toilet Plunging of 1996 when you get a moment.) And looky here, I didn't even have to barter anything to get DH to do it for me this time! I will admit I did let him regale me with the grotesque story of how he got it unclogged. Let's put it this way... it involved a "snaking device". (I'm dry heaving as I type this.)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Arming Ourselves for Cold and Flu Season

Kibi and I are both down for the count today with colds. At least that's what I think they are - my husband keeps making me paranoid by constantly asking if I think we've got swine flu. I think he's only half joking.

Anyway, speaking of flu, I've got us signed up for our flu shots. This year, our pedi is doing FluMist instead of injections. The receptionist told me these are supposed to last even longer than the normal flu shot. Huh. I'm intrigued. We go one week from today so I'll let you know how it goes. The thought of having something shot up our noses doesn't sound really appealing - in fact, I'd rather take the shot - but oh, well. We'll suck it up I guess. I'm proud of my husband, too, because he already got his done! Last year he was so slack about getting it that by the time he tried, they had run out of vaccine. Glad we won't have that problem this year.

Are you planning on getting the H1N1 vaccine? To me, it's a no brainer, but I guess I can understand why some people would be hesitant. In any case, as soon as that's available, our family will be marching in to the doctor's office to get it. I found that the CDC has a good fact sheet on H1N1 for those of you who haven't stumbled upon it already.

No other big news to report ... I'm off to go drink some warm tea. Have a good weekend!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Summing Up the First Day

The first day of preschool seemed to come off without a hitch. As I tucked Kibi in last night, I asked him (for the millionth time) about how he liked his first day of "playschool."

You see, I had only received dribs and drabs of information from him throughout the day, such as:

"I was a fire truck!"


"Mommy packed a fruit bar!" (he seemed to completely have missed the adorable - if I do say so myself - note and picture I had packed in his lunch box)


"I play, play, played!"

and the mysterious:

"The girls played with eggs." ???

So anyway, I remained curious about what went on. I got initial positive reports from the teacher and two co-oping parents. The teacher reported that Kibi did "great, but... um, he doesn't really like to sit at a table, does he?" (Geez, is my kid the ONLY 2 year old who won't sit at a table to eat?)

So, as I tucked him in snug and cozy into his crib, I asked once again how Kibi liked the school.

He sighed and said, satisfied, "I am so proud of it."

I wasn't expecting that answer, but, hey ... I'll take it!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

First Day of Preschool

Well, it's here, and it's going well so far. I dropped Kibi off at 9:30 with no major problems and I'll go back at 12:30 to get him.

I took the advice of the preschool literature and talked with him about his new "playschool" for several days prior to today. This morning, I think it did occur to him that Mom would be actually LEAVING him there (as opposed to staying with him, like we did last week at the playdate arranged for the kids to meet each other). As he ate his breakfast, he quietly asked, "Mommy going to leave?" and I gently replied, "Yes, but Mommy will come back and you can tell me all about your day!" And he didn't protest, so I considered that a good omen.

His teacher, a very cool guy named Peter, told me to expect that kids at this age will go through phases of not wanting to be dropped off versus being fine with it. I imagine it will be hard, also, during the mornings when I co-op at the school. But oh, well, like every other challenge that's come up in our 2 1/2 year journey with Kibi, we'll just ... deal with it!

Here are some pictures of the big day for your enjoyment. That one is of him heading toward the classroom with his Mickey Mouse lunch box. (I sure wish he would've let me snap his photo from the FRONT! But I suppose this turned out equally cute.)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Paved Paradise and Put Up a Parking Lot

Well, it's not that bad, but I feel like it's just as drastic. Our backyard trees are GONE -- thanks to a construction project courtesy of our county. The final project will be good for the community, I'll admit; it involves adding sidewalks, streetlights and a bike path to what is now a very busy and dangerous road (that happens to run directly behind our backyard). But during the course of the next six months or so, Kibi is going to have almost no place to play.

Above, you can see the before and after pictures. (You'll see Kibi playing by the fence and in the background there are, in fact, some trees. Well, rest assured they'll be cut down this week too.) I'm sort of peeved because the tree removal company wasn't exactly helpful during the process of cutting down all the trees yesterday: first of all, although the project manager informed us it would eventually happen (more than a year ago), we got no warning that it was actually happening yesterday. Kibi and I weren't home at the time, so imagine my surprise when we got home. What's worse, because we weren't home, apparently the contractors took it upon themselves to enter our backyard patio, shove all the furniture, toys, etc. (including Kibi's play house) unceremoniously into a pile in the corner, and then tear down all the things we had hanging in our trees -- windchimes, a wind sock that I still can't find, a bird house, and worst of all: Kibi's beloved swing. We spent the entire afternoon cleaning up the mess, and sighing about the barren landscape. Now, we look out our living room glass doors and see this major road, only about 15 feet away. It's really weird. And pretty ugly.

It was really when I saw Kibi's swing, cast aside under the piles of wood chips, that the magnitude of losing all our trees really hit me. Not to get too melodramatic about it, but it's really traumatic. For the last seven years (as long as we've been in this house), we've taken for granted the privacy, shade, and plain old serenity that our backyard canopy of trees provided. And when Kibi came along, we used our favorite old tree for endless swing rides, feeling safely tucked away in the protection of our back yard trees. Now it's all gone - and our patio (and house) is exposed for the world to see. I feel like everyone who passes by on this busy road is looking at my underwear or something. It's an odd feeling.

Fortunately, the county promises us a privacy wall as well as whatever kinds of replacement trees we want. Unfortunately, you don't have a lot to choose from when you're talking about new, replanted trees. We're probably going to go with arbor vitae or something that provides the best screen.

OK, I'll stop whining now. But I feel better having had the opportunity to do a little venting to mourn the loss of some dear friends.

Friday, September 11, 2009

We Will Always Remember

The events of September 11th, 2001 were very, very real to me. I was here in Washington, DC when it happened. In fact, for a few terrifying minutes that morning, my colleagues at the time and I thought that the final airplane was headed straight toward us. Working in a building located only three blocks from the White House, we thought it was entirely within the realm of possibility that we could be in striking distance. That didn't happen, as we all know, and I became one of the "lucky" ones: my immediate loved ones and I were safe, and I didn't personally know a single person out of the thousands who died. Therefore, I don't claim to have any special "rights" to that day, but it does surprise me how well, over the past eight years, I've been able to tamp down the feelings that surround my recollection.

Well, those feelings all came rushing back today, when I turned on the TV to watch some of the memorials. I'm not sure exactly what triggered it - the moments of silence observed at the times when each plane crashed; the sight of the elderly couple standing in the rain at the NYC memorial service, huddled together under their umbrellas; or the words of the survivors as they read off the names of victims and offered their own personal statements of love and grief. Whatever it was, I found myself, suddenly, sobbing.

As long ago as that day seems, once you let yourself remember what it felt like, this life-changing event once again becomes all too real.

In light of this, it was with a touch of -- I'm not sure, sadness? Depression? Confusion? -- that I read this article in today's Washington Post. It's hard to believe that we've now entered a sort of new era, one in which not everyone remembers exactly what they were doing that day, or how it felt. I can only hope that I can pass along the important parts of that day - the way we all came together as a country, the way politics was put aside, if only for a moment, the way we all wanted to do good with no expectations of acknowledgment for our service - to my son, so that he will always remember, too.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Speaking of New Chapters, Here's One I'm Really Dreading

Perhaps I'm being a leeeeeee-tle melodramatic, but here goes: a change is afoot, and this change could ... very well mean .... The End of The World.

Kibi is showing definite signs of being ready to start CLIMBING OUT OF HIS CRIB.

On that day, my life as I know it will be over.

It's funny, I've caught him three times now, not all the way out but literally poised to jump out (astraddle the crib rail with a cat-that-swallowed-the-canary look on his face). Something (thankfully) seems to be keeping him from pulling the trigger, because every time he's done it he's announced it loudly as a warning: "Mooooommmmmmeeeeee! Come seeeeeeeee I! Come seeeee what I doooooooing!" (And yes, he's still saying "I" instead of "me", which makes it all the more difficult not to laugh.)

I know you experienced parents out there are laughing at me, evilly, but really, can you blame me for mourning what appears to be the end of an era? I've enjoyed parenthood all the more knowing that AT LEAST for 1-2 hours a day, I get a teensy tiny bit of Moi Time.

What in the world happens when I can't get him to stay in his bed?!?!?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Endings, and New Beginnings

We recently wrapped up our tenure at a local co-op playgroup. This was a photo snapped of Kibi on one of our last days there. Notice he is still in a sort of jetlag haze since we had returned from our Montana trip only a day before. As a result, he sorta slept through music class. Ha!

My friend T. was the one who got me involved in the playgroup, and I'm glad she did because I think it was good for both Kibi and me. Kibi got a much-needed opportunity to socialize with other kids his age, and I developed good co-oping experience ... both are things that I'm especially grateful for as we embark on our next big adventure: nursery school!

Kibi starts on September 16th, and I've been thinking about it a lot lately.

I come from a family of teachers who happen to believe 2.5 years is too young to go to "preschool". So it was with some trepidation that I went ahead and applied to a few of them anyway. I'll be honest - everyone does it in this area. Not that it's a valid reason, but I'll admit I got sucked in to the thinking. And, truth be told, rather than doing it for any I-have-to-get-my-kid-academically-prepared-at-a-ridiculously-young-age reason, I quite simply wanted to join a co-op preschool, in particular, to a) meet more parents and b) give Kibi an opportunity to play with new toys and kids. Simple as that.

Well, we got waitlisted at the three places we applied to back in March, so I figured that was the universe telling me to wait a year. But lo and behold .... about two months ago we got a call from the school I liked the best, saying they had a spot open for us and would we like to join? I said yes right away.

In a way I'm a little nostalgic/emotional about sending him off to "school"... but I keep telling myself, it's just a two day Parents' Day Out program (Mondays and Wednesdays, 9:30 am to 12:30 pm). LOTS of parents do it, and their kids survive. In fact, lots of kids actually benefit from it. And, as my husband and I have said, if it turns out he is terrified to be away from me two days a week for 3 hours at a time, we can always pull him out. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will work out, though. He seems up for a new challenge and if the "goodbye, Mommy" part gets to him, he can always be distracted by toys!

So... there you have it. For now we're getting all our supplies ready for "school". Sorta fun. And we get to meet Kibi's new "classmates" at a playdate tomorrow. Wish us luck!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Friday, September 4, 2009


Today is one of those sublime days in which I have no work obligations, no social obligations, and even no chores at home since I got caught up yesterday. Hooray! It's just gorgeous outside, so I took Kibi to one of our many wonderful parks in the area. We hadn't been to this particular one in months, so it was interesting to see how he tackled it as an older child.

I've been thinking a lot about how little ones change as they grow, in what seems like a slow manner, but in reality it happens before our very eyes and we are usually too busy or distracted to notice it. During one rare pause in the action this morning, when I was pushing K. on the swing (he will now let me do that for what seems like hours!), he pulled his sun hat off and I stared at his face. His hair was all matted and it looked so sweet. His face was flushed and he had a little scratch on his forehead from an unfortunate run in with a fence the other day. Still, to me, he looked completely perfect, and happy.

I loved being able to really study his face as he swung back and forth, back and forth pretending to be an airplane. It was at this moment that I felt I caught a glimpse of his changing face. Something about it looked different than yesterday, while I'm sure no one would really be able to pinpoint what is was exactly. But I know it is changing, and soon he'll look like even less of a baby than he did today.

Times like these when I look at him so intently, I try to picture what he'll look like as an older child, a teenager, a college student, and (gasp!) an adult. But then I shake that thought off, and go back to enjoying the moment. That's what days like these remind me... to enjoy, enjoy, enjoy the here and now.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Dear President Obama,

Thank you for sending stimulus dollars our way so that my son can watch construction trucks in front of his house ALL DAY LONG.

Kibi's Mama

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Out of the Mouths of Babes...

This isn't really about anything embarrassing that Kibi said, just some cute declarations he made as a result of our busy day today.

We spent a beautiful late summer afternoon at the neighborhood park, enjoyed a quiet dinner together (DH was working late), and then I surprised Kibi with a treat: brand new bathtub crayons! These are wonderful because a) he loves them and b) they virtually ensure that I can get through AT LEAST one Us Weekly during bathtime and c) the mess is gone with one swipe of the washcloth!

Anyway, he was full of observations during bath time, but my favorites by far were:

(Long pause, during which, incidentally, I thought he was pooping in the tub) ...
"Mommy, I like to think about going to the park today."

(Thinking while writing with the crayons on the ledge of the tub:)
"Fun about crayon fun ..." (I knew this was not what he meant to say; rather that he was working out the sentence structure in his head, which was actually the cutest thing about it)
So I said, "What are you trying to say?"
He tried again: "Fun about crayons is they write on the tub and you wipe them off!"
He clearly meant to say, "You know what's fun about crayons?..."

They were both sweet, making-conversation types of comments. I love that he's attempting to talk just like a big boy, even if the words sometimes get in the way.

About Me

Arlington, VA, United States
Maestro and mom to a wee virtuoso

I'm #1804