Category: family

Proving that he’s mine

I have such admiration for these friends and their words. Bravo, Amy.

(Simply)Laugh

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This week I took Jamie to his 18 mo check-up. I had heard great things about the doctor. I did everything I could to have information there ahead of time. I even talked with them on the phone beforehand. Needless to say, I was prepared.

I got there early for the appointment to fill out paperwork. After completing all of the paperwork, I brought it up to the receptionist. As she was thumbing through, I mentioned to her in passing that the reason I didn’t fill out some of the medical history was because my son was adopted.

This got her attention and she asked for Jamie’s adoption paperwork. I was a little stunned. Legally, Jamie’s mine. His birth certificate shows us as his parents. He has a social security number that would also list us as his parents. This was not something our previous doctor had requested, so I…

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What Do We Mean by ‘Unintended’ Pregnancy?

pregnancyTestI like Jezebel, and I reallly like Jezebel’s commentators. Check out this piece on ambivalence towards pregnancy and the two awesome responses I’ve reposted below.

“The CDC says that about half (or 49%) of all pregnancies are unintended. And those aren’t all teen pregnancies. In fact the largest percentage of those occurs in women aged 18 to 29.”

This, yes, exactly, from laureltreedaphne: “If you’re using the pullout method and you get pregnant, is that really an accidental pregnancy? This argument drives me crazy, and as my friends and I have shifted into our late 20s / early 30s I see it happening all the time. If you and your partner choose to forgo birth control and then get pregnant, I don’t really believe that’s an accidental pregnancy – an accidental pregnancy is birth control failing, or someone not understanding how it works. Your pull-out birth control didn’t fail – you weren’t using birth control.

I really feel like there is this weird phenomenon where women don’t want to admit that they want to get pregnant. So they switch to the pull out method, because of all the side effects of birth control. And then 4-5 month’s later they’re “accidentally” pregnant. It’s a way to not own your choice, and it really bothers me. I don’t care if you want to have a baby, just have one. Don’t create this whole false “whoops” narrative.”

and this by rokokobang: “Just own it! The withdrawal method is making an active choice not to use birth control. That’s not the same as your condom failing because you left it in a hot car. It makes the conversation go like this:

“Wow! Congratulations!”

“Thank you! Yeah, it was a total surprise!”

“Oh, it was? Like did birth control fail, or…?”

“Oh, well no, we weren’t actually using anything.”

“So…why were you surprised?”

“Well, we weren’t trying!”

“But you weren’t preventing pregnancy.”

“Well, right. But we weren’t trying.”

“IF YOU AREN’T TRYING TO STOP IT, THAT IS KIND OF LIKE TRYING.”

Against Wedding Registries

It’s the year of weddings in my world: five (six?) different celebrations over the next four months. I’m fortunate that all of them are within driving distance, and two are actually local. I am lucky to have such dear friends who are honoring me with an invitation to a milestone event in their lives.

But I have more than a twinge of cynicism about all the money and gift-giving and hoopla of the wedding industry. In 2012, when the average wedding cost was $27,427, the median was $18,086. In 2011, when the average was $27,021, the median was $16,886. I mean, even a below average’ wedding of $15,000 is a TON of money. As one writer aptly noted, “The couple spent the equivalent of a down payment on a Lexus for one day’s worth of partying.” (In contrast, this awesome piece from A Practical Wedding summarizes my feelings).

And what’s a celebratory union without presents?! There’s an engagement party, a bachelorette party, a bridal shower, a lingerie shower, and of course the wedding itself. Despite lengthy registries, none of the couples who will be tying the knot NEED anything. They all cohabitate, several jointly own homes/pets and/or cars. They successfully cook using existing knives and grills, take trips out of town, own matching sheets and towels, have health insurance, and generally purchase their own goodies and services.They’re successful, educated, independent adults.

So what do I buy them? Do I really need to purchase a $350 Caphlone pan to send them my love and best wishes? A new grill — even though I know the current one works because I’ve eaten burgers made on it? A bag of tea votives they could pick up at IKEA for $25? It feels like I’m just buying them stuff they already own. Or, I’m buying them something that they just don’t want to buy themselves.

The phrase, ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ isn’t just an outdated 1960’s adage. We own a lot of STUFF, and even when we donate it to charity, it leaves a mark. I’m not an eco-green maniac but it’s hard to ignore pieces like Waste Couture: Environmental Impact of the Clothing Industry. Here’s how a Slate author phrased it:

We could have registered and asked our friends to buy upgraded pots and pans for ourselves. But we didn’t. After all, if we really wanted fancier stuff, we could have just spent less on the wedding and more on housewares. Wedding presents for modern cohabitating adults with established households are in the pure realm of deadweight loss—you’re buying things for people that they haven’t bought for themselves because they think they’re overpriced.”

Ranting and idealism and heavy sighing aside, gift giving isn’t going away — not for birthdays, holidays or weddings. Tradition demands it and social norms uphold it. And let’s be honest – getting presents is fun! But there are a few creative alternatives to registering for a set of bamboo sheets:

1. Local Registry. It’s only available in New Hampshire at the moment, but I see this catching on and spreading like wildfire: NearbyRegistry.com. “Find gifts from your favorite local shops, service providers, and nonprofits.” Sometimes the best painting is from a local artist and not a box store. (Full disclosure: I own a giant framed photo from Crate & Barrel and love it.)

2. Experiences RegistryWed & Wish. Register for an experience. As one couple who used it noted, “We were already living together and we didn’t need more stuff …The honeymoon experiences [our friends and family] gifted us were incredible! We got a bicycle ride in Kyoto, a picnic in a cherry blossom spot, a bottle of champagne in a Ryokan, and Shiatsu foot massage.” Ding ding! And it’s got a cute site: here’s a sample registry.

3. Gift Rocket. It’s a website to buy online gift cards to anywhere. The recipient chooses how to receive the money — a prepaid debit card, direct into a bank account, via Paypal or check. Yes, it’s a glorified way to send cash but at least you’re giving something useful.

Can I get some paid maternity leave with those roses?

Kudos! Well thought and appropriately feisty exasperation on unrealistic parenting expectations in America.

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Today is not mother’s day, but it’s my mother’s day because tomorrow I will be working a long call. I will not see E awake at all unless I accidentally on purpose wake her up when I get home which, *blush*, I have done more than once. Before I had a baby, Mother’s Day seemed like a forced over-sentimental construct. Now it is more important to me than Christmas (ok, I’m Jewish), Hannukah (ok, that’s not really an important holiday for Jews), or my own birthday (as an adult, birthdays are kind of eh). It’s the holiday we mamas EARN! Cause being a mom is amazing but it is a shit-ton of work, and the most arduous work is done in the years that the child won’t even remember, so bring on the chocolates! Excuse the profanity, but this Mother’s Day I’m feeling a little feisty. Why am I am…

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10 Ways to Mess Up Your Kids Through Divorce

Thanks to Huffington Post Divorce Blog for publishing this piece!

Recently I had the chance to spend 20 hours in a car with my favorite big sister. In between chugging Dr. Peppers, snatching cat naps and consuming Peachie-O’s, our conversation invariably turned to family, relationships and our parents’ divorce. Memories and many miles of open road led to the creation of this list.

1. Take a family vacation amidst the throes of divorce, preferably to a faraway destination before either child can drive. This is a good way to test their independence and coping skills while you’re busy yelling at your soon-to-be-ex spouse for the duration of the trip. It also helps your kids make friends when strangers express concern over their sobs on the ski lift. Don’t forget to take lots of forced pictures.

2. Allow your children to meet their soon-to-be stepparent exactly one time before the wedding. It’s not like they’re going to live with them 90 percent of the time or anything. It’syour choice who you marry, after all. Related, be sure to include your new spouse in the children’s discipline immediately.

3. Refuse any and all culpability. This divorce is not your fault, ergo, it must be your spouses’. Act accordingly.

4. Require your kids to report to you about child support checks. This isn’t about your meal ticket; it’s about following the judge’s orders. Besides, they likely spent the weekend fa-la-la-ing and rolling around in money with your ex-spouse. The least your kid can do is bring back the check.

5. Bash your ex-spouse, even years after the divorce is final. Keep the message clear: Their other parent is a complete and total, unrepentant lying sack of sh*t with zero redeeming qualities. Repeat ad nauseum.

6. Communicate about the divorce to everyone your child knows. Include teachers, coaches, the tennis team, your friends, their friends, their friends’ parents and the deli counter guy. This will ensure your children feel thoroughly supported in the community. People will talk anyway, so it’s best they hear “The Truth” from you.

7. Threaten suicide– in front of your kids. This works best when followed by additional rash acts like driving too fast while screaming, standing on the balcony railing at midnight, or telling your kids goodbye and not returning home for hours.

8. Use guilt, manipulation and anger to communicate how much time your kids should spend with you during the holidays. Do this every year, preferably in public places. You are the parent and they should respect your requests. Period.

9. Recreate a family history that conveniently excludes any problems existing prior to the divorce. If they challenge your version of history, stand your ground. They were just kids.

10. Put your child on the stand to testify at your divorce. No divisiveness could possibly result from this.

We’re thinking about getting matching tattoos of this Doctor Who quote, “We have fought monsters together, and we have won.”

Why Does America Lead the World in School Shootings?

Many people are talking about gun control. But White House spokesman Jay Carney isn’t joining in for now:

I think it’s important on a day like today to view this as I know the president, as a father does and I as a father and others who are parents certainly do, which is to feel enormous sympathy for families that are affected and to do everything we can to support state and local law enforcement and support those who are enduring what appears to be a very tragic event.  There is, I’m sure, will be, rather, a day for discussion of the usual Washington policy debates but I don’t think today is that day.

It’s horrible to imagine, but there exists a plethora of literature and opinion and debate on school shootings. Here are a few informed thoughts by Dr. Frank Ochberg, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Michigan State University and former Associate Director of the National Institute of Mental Health:

School shootings are far more frequent in America than in other countries, although terrible massacres have occurred in Russia, Israel, and several European nations. In the high-crime neighborhoods of inner cities, school turf is relatively safe. We have learned to harden the target and patrol with vigilance.

And even in those suburbs and small towns where spree killings have occurred, the rates, per capita, are lower now than in previous decades. School is a safe place – until, as in Chardon, Ohio, the unspeakable happens. Then, even though the risks are low, it is fair to ask, why does this still happen? Why here, in America?

Let’s be clear. There is no single, certain answer to these questions. The possible factors include failure by classmates, parents and school officials to see the warning signs; bullying and revenge; serious mental illness; violent role models; drugs; access to guns, and a culture that condones extremism.

America has its share of these factors, but which are significant and which are more prevalent here than across the Atlantic? Read the full piece. 

Sadly, terror at school is not limited to America. In an eerie coincidence, at almost the same time that gunfire broke out at Newton School, 22 children were stabbed in a Chinese elementary school.

As one commentator stated, “Who can understand why someone kills children? There is no answer to the question of why.”

Easy DIY Cinnamon Ornaments

The promised result
The promised result

I’m fortunate to have several friends with toddlers who enjoy crafting. The daughter of an art teacher, I get a kick out of helping kids use their hands to create something original and full of pride. I remember how much fun it was to paint a ceramic in elementary school then proudly present the mottled heart box to dad for Father’s Day, and to get sticky fingers and glitter everywhere making glitter pinecones for holiday presents.

Using Pinterest as an inspiration and thinking about kid-friendliness, I rustled up the materials for DIY cinnamon ornaments.  Crafting doesn’t have to be expensive, and simpler is better — (I mean, do you remember my failed DIY Tin Lantern?) So I figured it doesn’t get much easier than a two-ingredient recipe from McCormick for cinnamon ornaments.

Before you endeavor on this little baked craft adventure, a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Toddlers like to eat things that look like cookie dough. Toddler review: “It tastes fpatsey.” Me: “Fartsy? It tastes like farts?!” Mother Translation: “He says it tastes spicy.” Ah.
  • One batch made about 12 ornaments. The attention span of these lovely 3.5 year old kids was about one ornament per child. I got an extra 30 seconds if we drew the letter of their first name.
  • These are not fix ‘n forget items. They bake for 2.5 hours.
  • Use the plastic wrap as stated and roll the dough 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick. I made some too thin that they were brittle and snapped.
  • The holes you make for stringing through ribbon will shrink. Use a big straw, or 2 holes next to each other.
  • Unlike sugar cookies, if you put these on the cookie sheet with a crack in the dough, the crack will not fuse. Keep the dough wet-ish by adding more applesauce.
  • Accustomed to decorating sugar cookies, I found the plain surfaces dull and attempted to add some decorations via toothpick drawings. You should pass on this. Plain is perfect.
  • Find cookie cutters before you start. Unless you like circles from glasses in various shapes, in which case, make sure you have very clean edges.

For the record, these turned out mostly fine. Not awesome, and also not bad for a first attempt. All’s well that ends well. Definitely worth an easy $8 and some crafting. And I think my mom will like a homemade present from one of her little girls.

The actual results
The actual results