Wednesday, October 2, 2013


Wow, I knew it had been a long time since I posted to the blog, but I hadn't quite realized that it had been over four months. Oops.

It was a long and very busy summer. We went camping and swimming. We went to Great America and the Renn Faire. We went to outdoor concerts, festivals, farmers' markets, and more. I started school. Squid started a new daycare. We watched all that Netflix has to offer in Classic Doctor Who.

We also discovered the fountain in Millenium Park.
Squid also turned 2. She had a super-awesome superhero. It was a little cold (IN JULY!) for her to wear her Wonder Woman tutu, but she had fun nonetheless. We had a Spidey pinata, handed out masks so people could go incognito, and ate a watermelon cut to look like a birthday cake.

Watermelon Cake!

No beating this pinata!

OH! And here is a pic of Squid in her Spidey swimsuit, like I promised you all months and months ago:

Never doubt a determined mommy!

Squid is growing up fast and talking a ton. We are still having the occasional issue with people assuming that she would rather have something covered in Princesses than Superheroes. As of this writing, Squid can name at least 6 superheroes when she sees them. She doesn't know a single Princess. She still loves Spidey, but she has a new thing for Ironman.

Also, she is crazy for the the Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker). Although she always recognizes the Doctor no matter which form he is in, her favorite is Four. She is dressing as him for Halloween. I really need to get to work on the scarf. I have taught her to shake her fist in the air while screaming, "MOFFAT!" It was a proud moment.

Oh! And Squid's new obsession is trains. We may nickname her Sheldon. She got a small, wooden Thomas the Tank Engine set for her birthday. Her favorite restaurant is a place called Tyler's Tender. They deliver your meal on a train!

Here she is, checking out their O-scale train.

We got some weird looks recently when we entered a hobby shop just to look around. I don't think the old guys there believed me when I told them that the 2-year-old girl with me wanted to see trains. About the 10th time she had me pick her up to look at the assembled model they had, they handed us a model train catalog and told us about the garden-scale train at a nearby arboretum.

I promise to make time for this blog again. We are finally getting into a rhythm with school and work and life. I leave you with one of Squid's 2 year pictures:

Courtesy of Klassyc Memories Photography

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Come and Play!

Since we dragged our toddler to C2E2, we figured it was only fair to do something just for her as well. Actually, right before Christmas, our local PBS affiliate had a fundraising drive and one of the gifts was tickets to Sesame Street Live with a pre-show meet and greet. We also got to go to the studios for a special Sesame Street Play Zone Day.

They had little activity centers based on the TV show:

Mr. Hooper's Store.... which no longer has a Mr. Hooper

Elmo's piano

Hello? Anyone home?

But, Squid spent most of her time coloring....

and dancing...

After a while, some of the characters came out for photo ops. Squid was excited, but suspicious....

I'll just stand back and see if Zoe eats any of those kids first.
It was a bit overwhelming for her, with so much activity and kids. We did get a couple of good pics with some of the scenes and characters, but they were taken with Nana's camera and she can't figure out how to email them to me. ;-)

So.... after much waiting and anticipation, the night of Sesame Street Live finally arrived. I was nervous about being in a theater full of toddlers and preschoolers that late on a weeknight.

Sunny Seats, sugar-infused toddlers, and frazzled parents meet here.
Before the show, we had the opportunity to meet a couple of characters. Squid was practically vibrating as we stood in line...

She wore this grin all the way back up the aisle

After the photos, we had to wait in the lobby for a long, long time.

But, daddy made it better by buying an Elmo plushie.

For me????

Finally, it was time... to wait in the theater.

And then the lights went down, the curtain went up, and this happened...

OMG! ELMO!!!!!

I'm not completely sure who had more fun... Squid or us. She squealed and clapped and danced. At one point, we swear she screamed, "I LOVE YOU, ELMO!!!!" Except that she isn't speaking in that clear of sentences yet. We were waiting for her to throw her diaper onto the stage.

She did, however, rush the stage near the end of the night.

Yeah, she's our little groupie in the making.

Friday, May 10, 2013


Ok, not really. But I couldn't figure out how to write Con all drawn out without people reading it as coon.

Let's try it this way...

COMIC CO------------ON!

Better? Meh.

As you can probably guess, this is the big C2E2 post. Well, maybe not big. Don't want to get your hopes up since I'm sort of making this up as I go along.

We went on the last day. Sunday was also the shortest day, but we figured that it would be best for Squid. I'm not sure how well she enjoyed it, but we had quite a bit of fun.

First, Squid was going through a "Mommy" phase. Mommy has to be the one holding her and interacting with her at all times. She still loves her Daddy, but Mommy has to do all the lifting. This sucks because Mommy is the better photographer and actually knows how to use the fancy camera we bought just to take pictures of an active toddler. Daddy has a lot of talents. Taking pictures with Mommy's camera is not one of them. So... when you see pics of Daddy holding Squid, her arms are usually stretched toward the woman behind camera.

Next, Squid had an upset tummy. We think she managed to ingest some dairy products somewhere along the way. She was rather crabby for the first half of the day. Which, of course, is when things are hectic and there's no time for crabbiness.

On the way into the convention center, we saw a Spider-Man cosplayer. Needless to say, Squid was super excited. Her head whipped around so fast, I almost worried that it would fall off. She pointed and made sure that all of us saw Spidey. He was real!

Soon enough, we saw more Spideys. They were everywhere (I wonder what Wizard World will look like this fall... Stan Lee is going to be there!). She pointed at every costume, t-shirt, hat, backpack, etc that had her beloved superhero on it. She was in Spidey heaven. That is, until she got close to one....

Is he supposed to be this big????

She pointed out this cosplayer with a huge grin, so we walked up and asked if we could get her pic. He was happy to comply. We grabbed Squid out of her stroller, clutching her Spider-Man plushie, only to get this reaction. She tried to get away and actually started crying. BUT... if Spidey took a couple of steps back, she would smile and point and say, "SPIDEY!" The second he came close enough for a pic, she would freak out. Maybe it's because she's wearing a DC shirt.

Inside, we had to queue up at the opposite end of the hall, so we could get our picture taken with this guy:

Squid is looking for the blue box.

OK, I'm not a classic Who fan. Mainly because I have only watched a handful of episodes. But, it was pretty cool to a family pic with Peter Davison. And now, there are only 2 degrees of separation between me and David Tennant. WOOT!

After this photo op, we headed over to Jill Thompson's booth to pick up an original drawing we had commissioned. We started to introduce ourselves when Ms. Thompson looked at Squid and said, "I recognize you!" Then she pulled out this lovely bit of artwork:

Yes, that's Squid having a grand old time with Little Endless Delirium and Death

We loved it. Squid chose this moment to become crabby again, so we cut the meeting short. We did come back later to get her autograph in a hardback copy of Scary Godmother and to get Squid's pic with the lovely and talented artist.

Yes, Mommy is behind the camera.

There was a bit of a mix-up online and in their scheduling. We were supposed to get a picture with Julie Newmar, but apparently she wasn't doing the professional pictures that day. When we complained (after all, we did pay for it in advance!), they offered us this photo op:

Squid has had a costume change at this point... and is properly wearing Marvel

Felicia Day looked at Squid and said if they were handing out cuteness awards at the con, she would surely win. Squid nonchalantly agrees.

We did get an autograph from Julie Newmar. While we were waiting in line, she was interviewed by some Joker who cut in front of everyone.

Fancy meeting you here!

When it was our turn, she told us how cute Squid was and thanked us for coming out. We told her how we had wanted to get a picture with her. She smiled and whispered, "Come around the booth. They charge over at the photo op. Here it's free!" She was genuinely sweet and friendly and took her time to talk to everyone who came up to her. She is also still absolutely gorgeous.

MOM!!! Why are you over there?????

Ms. Newmar was kind enough to let us get a pic without a screaming child.

Soon after this, Squid completely zonked out and we wandered the booths and looked for interesting stuff that we don't need. One thing we didn't get to until too late was this awesome print:

Yes, we are!
It was created by some very talented young women who had no idea what sort of impact such a positive message this sent out. They sold out almost immediately. They are working on getting an online store up and running soon. Until then, you can find artist Sarah Satrun here.

Squid napping while Spidey watches out for villains.
The rest of the day was pretty uneventful. Squid awoke from her nap a whole new kid, and had fun walking as much as we would let her and pointing out every instance of Spider-Man that she saw. We tried to get her picture taken with The Predator, but he proved a bit too scary, even with Mommy holding her.

She did let me get a pic of her and her godmother:

I had to snap this quickly because she was more interested in looking at the giant Spidey

Oh! I almost forgot. As we were entering the hall, we bumped into Darth Vader and some Stormtroopers. We tried to get a pic of Squid, but she wanted no part of it. I think it may be because of the voice changers that made Vader talk funny.

Nearby, there was a Disney Cinderella cosplayer. Everyone who thought that Vader was just too scary for the toddler suggested we get her picture with the princess. So, we set her down and led her to the woman who was kneeling and talking to other young girls. I'm happy to say that Squid wanted no part of Cinderella, either. She had nearly the same reaction to a young lady in a ball gown that she had to a man in black body armor.

OK, that's all. I need to get to bed. I have more posts in the future. We went to see Sesame Street Live and got our pictures taken with Abby and Grover! Fun times!

Saturday, May 4, 2013


So, you might notice some changes with the blog. I'm working on the layout, trying to make it look more like something that people will want to read. And I have changed the url, so it matches the name. It will also be its own domain in coming weeks, although I will still be using blogger to publish it. For now, at least.

And I have some (hopefully) fun posts coming up in the next week or so. We recently went to C2E2 and saw Sesame Street Live. I just have to get all the media together and have some time to breathe.

Also, don't forget to check out our Facebook page. And tell your friends.

More soon. I promise!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Raising Independent Kids

Disclaimer - my kid isn't even 2 years old yet. I am not an expert on raising children. My views may change as Squid gets older.

So, I'm browsing Pinterest and looking at some family cooking and craft projects. And most of these projects have mom doing most of the work or severely supervising the children. One in particular mentioned how her project was a good one because her kids didn't need much supervision after she microwaved the chocolate for them.

The kids were teens and preteens. She talks about them having cell phones. She showed pics of kids well over the age of 10. Why do these kids need to be supervised in the use of a microwave?

By the time I was 10, I was preparing complete meals on the stove. I was trusted to do laundry on my own. I was mowing lawns. When did we start treating children like imbeciles?

How can we expect kids to ever learn to be self-sufficient if we continue to do everything for them? Yes, they might screw it up. That's part of the learning process. They may even sustain minor injuries. They will survive them.

I consider myself a decent cook. Not awesome. But people usually eat whatever I make and I get compliments on some of the stuff. As a kid, I burnt a lot of food. I mixed ingredients wrong. I didn't time when stuff would be done, so the sides would be cold and the entree hot. I eventually got the hang of it through trial and error.

The same thing with everything in life. I learned to hammer nails by hammering rusty, crooked nails into scrap wood. That was my grandpa's idea of a toy to keep my brother and me quiet for a while. Ok, probably not the best example, but we never got tetanus, although we did hammer our thumbs a few times.

Kids need the opportunity to screw up. They need the opportunity to take risks. Success is meaningless if the parent is responsible for it.

Let the kid microwave the chocolate. What's the worst that could happen? Over-cooking it? Making a mess of the microwave? Those are not disasters. Those are learning opportunities. Make them clean the mess and try again. You aren't going to be there to microwave their ramen noodles in college.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

This is Getting Old

I hate to keep on about the same things, over and over. But the same things happen, over and over.

Took Squid shopping the other day. We needed a raincoat and we were going to look at bathing suits. I let her pick out a rain coat and she chose the girliest coat, pink with flowers or apples or some such nonsense. It's cute and she hugged it and smiled and wanted to wear it throughout the store.

Then we went over to the swimwear area to see what they have. She was instantly drawn to the Spiderman swim trunks. Have I mentioned how much this kid loves Spidey? I'm actually getting a little worried about her obsession. She pointed and smiled and said, "SPIDEY!" I acknowledged that the swim trunks did indeed have Spiderman on them. Then I sang the theme song as she danced in her seat. And as much as I would love to say I bought her the swim trunks, I can't. I told her we should try to get her a girl's swimsuit and we looked on the slightest chance that they might have a Spiderman bathing suit. They didn't. I showed her Dora, Minnie Mouse, Princesses Galore... even an Angry Birds. She emphatically shook her head no and pointed at the Spiderman trunks. I promised I would look and see what I could find online and guiltily bought her some Spidey pajamas.

When we were checking out, the cashier looked at our haul, which now included a cloth diaper for her doll and a purple doll stroller (she had tried to steal one from a kid at the mall the other day, so we figured a $10 toy was cheaper than jail time). The cashier looked at Squid and said, "Is this all for you? Oh, wait... not all. The pajamas must be for your brother."

"Nope," I replied. "They're hers. She's a big Spiderman fan."

The cashier looked a bit incredulous (seriously? over pajamas?) and smiled and continued to scan our items.

Don't you tell me what to do, cardboard dinosaur!

At home, I learned that they only make superhero bathing suits for nubile teens. WTH? I had Wonder Woman Underoos and such as a kid. Comics are HUGE right now. And all that's available for little girls is princesses and Dora. Wilting flowers waiting for a prince to come save them or a girl who is constantly getting lost in the woods.

When I mentioned the conundrum at work, my male coworkers laughed and smiled, knowing my daughter and her fanaticism for the web-slinger. A newer female coworker was aghast. "Why would you want her to wear a Spiderman bathing suit? Wouldn't she rather have a princess or Dora? She's a girl!"

I change her diapers, I am well-aware of her gender. And I watch her play mommy with her dolls and teddies and Spiderman plushie. She rocks them. She feeds them. And occasionally growls at them and bites their legs. I don't judge. Hell, I don't even attempt to understand anymore. I just go with the flow and encourage her to be herself.

Eventually, I was able to find a site selling toddler Spiderman Speedo-style swim trunks and a Spidey rash guard shirt. It'll work as a swimsuit. It's not as brave of a choice as letting her wear the boy trunks. But it's still a subtle way of telling society that it sucks. Of course, I could just as easily refuse to buy her any character-emblazoned outfits, barring superheroes and princesses alike. But I'd feel a bit like a hypocrite, telling her that she can't wear a Spiderman or Elmo shirt, while I walk around in my favorite Death or Dawn shirt.

Plus, I don't know how long this Spiderman phase will last. She may be done with it all next week. And as a geek, I need to be sure to fully enjoy any glimmer of geekiness my little Squid may have. So, I'll buy her the bathing suit that I have cobbled together. I will dress her as Princess Wonderwoman for C2E2. I will encourage her to emulate the best characteristics of the best superheroes. And I will try to teach her the meaning of a real superhero.... ones that don't wear capes. But mostly, I want her to realize that the media and retail industry does not need to decide what you will like. We do not need to start pigeonholing our children before they enter preschool. There are plenty of years and people who are going to try to stuff them into boxes. Let them enjoy the outside for a while first.

Teddy needs some fresh air.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Daddy's Birthday!

Yesterday was my husband's birthday. He's an April Fool's baby. It explains a lot. Trust me.

Due to work and scheduling issues, we didn't plan anything for this momentous occasion. But, I still wanted to do something for his birthday. I knew I would be bringing Squid with me to work yesterday for the "parent hand-off", so I thought, "How cute would it be for Squid to come to work carrying a bouquet of balloons?" So, of to Party City we went.

We looked at a bunch of balloons and Squid was pretty much fixated on Elmo and Spider-Man. We discussed the options as we waited in line (basically, Squid saying, "Elmo!" and me saying, "I don't think daddy will like Elmo as much as he would like Spider-Man." And her saying, "Spidey!").

An eavesdropping older woman in front of us commented on how cute the Squid is, then bent down to her and said, "I think your daddy would probably prefer to get one of the football balloons, don't you?" I explained that daddy doesn't really like football. So she said, "Well, they have basketball balloons, too. Maybe you should get him some of those instead of Elmo or Spider-Man."

Umm...No, lady. Daddy hates sports. Seriously. All sports. Well, he likes fencing, rugby, and roller derby, but they don't have balloons for those. Not all men like sports. Get over it!

Ok, what I said was, "No. He really doesn't get into any sports. He will like the Spider-Man balloons best." And Squid said, "Spidey?"

So, we ordered the Spider-Man birthday bouquet and the lady filling the balloons asked if they were for Squid. We explained that they were for daddy, and she said she figured. So, I mentioned that Squid picked them out. How she loves Spider-Man almost as much as she loves Elmo. The employee said, "Really? Most little girls like Hello Kitty instead."

As she filled the balloons, Squid smiled and squealed and pointed excitedly, saying, "Spidey! Spidey!" Then she started humming and dancing, presumably to the theme song in her head. The employee laughed and said that Squid is the coolest kid she's ever met.

We know...

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Yesterday, on the Bringing Up Squid Facebook page, I posted the the following:

 Whenever we are out in public and someone makes a comment about Squid's future boyfriends or husband, we always make sure to say, "Or girlfriend or wife." We've received some strange looks, some laughter, and some mild chiding... "Oh, don't say things like that. You're going to want grandkids some day."
I don't care where on the Kinsey scale Squid's sexual orientation falls. I want her to be in a happy, healthy relationship. Or to find happiness on her own. But, should she choose to marry some day, I hope that it is a legally binding marriage that bestows all the rights and responsibilities a couple deserves.

I'm working today, but keeping on eye on what's going on in Washington as the Supreme Court is hearing the Prop 8 case. My heart is with all these people, especially the families whose legal status is in limbo, waiting for 9 people to make a decision that will have such a deep impact on them.

When I was still nursing Squid, I spent an way too many hours watching TV. It seemed that most of my day was spent watching Netflix. To make myself feel better about watching so much television, I started watching documentaries. One of those documentaries was For the Bible Tells Me So, a film that interviews five Christian families who have a homosexual child.

One of the mothers disowned her daughter when she came out. Her daughter ended up committing suicide. I sat there, holding my newborn little girl, trying to imagine any scenario that would cause me to disown her. I couldn't imagine telling my daughter that she was not part of the family simply because she loved differently than I did. I sat and rocked her with tears streaming down my face. I'm sure hormones played a part, but I was truly shaken by the words the mother had written to her own daughter.

Granted, I am a liberal with many LGBT friends. I have grown up around gays and lesbians and transgendered folk. And Squid will grow up around many same-sexed couples, seeing that love has no boundaries. Maybe she will find love with another man. Maybe another woman. Maybe both or neither. But I do want her to know that she is loved and accepted for who she is, by her immediate family and by her extended family of people who love her simply because they know her. 

I really do hope that by the time she is considering marriage, we will be over this archaic nonsense defining marriage by sexual organs. I know that I am doing my best to do my part.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Geekiness, Level II - ACHIEVED!

Previously, I have blogged about our evening ritual. Every night, before bed, Squid and the parent du jour (or would that be parent du nuit?) snuggle and watch an episode of Star Trek. We've been doing this for a little over a year now, nearly every night. I don't think either of us had realized how much of an impact this ritual has on our little girl.

She hums along with the theme song, too!

In addition, we watch ASL signing videos with her, teaching her some simple signs to make communication with a toddler less stressful. These are wonderful videos, with fun songs. She absolutely loves them and has picked up quite a vocabulary.

Trust me. There's a reason I mention the signing.

The last couple of days, in the evening, she has decided that we are too slow and not getting the nighttime ritual going early enough for her. Squid goes to her room, pulls a blanket and a pacifier through the bars on her crib, drags them to the living room, and climbs up into the recliner. If we have not gotten the hint by then, she makes the ASL sign for "stars". And hands us the remote. "Stars". Remote for turning on the tv. Must be time for Star Trek. Now, if we could only teach her to differentiate which series she wants to watch.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Night of the Living Parents

I mean to post more. But it's been a stressful, hectic time in the Ivey household. We've been working overtime, juggling schedules because of babysitting issues, dealing with minor illnesses, and dealing with general toddlerhood.

To make it all so much more fun, Squid has decided sleep is for sissies. We're not exactly sure what the issue is, but she wakes up like clockwork at 1 a.m. and again at 5 a.m. nearly every morning. It may be the molars that are taking their sweet fricking time coming in. It might be a cold. It could be all the thinking she's doing, learning so much every day at such a rapid rate.

Whatever it is, she wakes up screaming bloody murder and won't fall asleep unless we're holding her. Needless to say, nobody's sleeping much.

So, one of us gets up and rocks her back to sleep, often falling asleep as well. We have tried a variety of methods to get her to sleep and stay asleep. I even asked the doctor about melatonin (she said no). Nothing works. She wants to be held.

A friend remarked on how she really doesn't miss those days with her children. And I don't blame her. But....

As tired as I am, as much as I would love a full night's sleep, as aggravated as I get that I have the one child who can't sleep through the night at nearly two.... there's a moment of bliss when she quiets down as soon as I lift her from the crib. When she wraps her arms around my neck and snuggles against me, as if Mommy is the only one who can drive the demons away and make everything better. When she so easily falls asleep in my arms, yet wakes up the instant she senses I am putting her back in her crib.

I'm not going to pretend that I am as enlightened at 1 a.m. I'm generally tired and often a bit crabby. But, I do try to remember that this is temporary, that one day I won't have a baby who needs mommy or daddy snuggles to fall asleep. That, if I do my job right, one day she will barely need me at all.

So, I pray that these damn teeth come in soon, that this physical or mental growth spurt passes quickly without incident, that tonight is the night she decides to sleep straight through. But, if I am awake at 1 a.m., rocking a whimpering baby, I hope to cherish that one moment of peace that comes in the still of the night.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Still alive

I know... I've been quiet this past week. I've been working some overtime and the plague visited our home for a few days. I am forever indebted to Aunt Kris for letting Squid spend the night one night so I could get some rest. Now, I am trying my best to get caught up on life, so the blog has had to sit on the backburner.

Squid has not slowed down, however. She's as active and goofy as always. The "terrible twos" are in full force already. She has lost pretty much all of her limited vocabulary, save the word "NO!"

This morning, she was playing with one of her phones (an antiquated BlackBerry with the battery and memory removed). She was chattering away when she handed Daddy the phone. Dutiful Daddy answered the phone, just like anyone does when handed a phone by a toddler.

"Hello? Oh, hi. Yes, this is Squid's daddy. I just got off work and I'm spending some time with Mommy and Squid before I head off to bed. Yes, Squid is right here. Let me get her."

He holds out the phone to a waiting Squid and says, "Do you want to talk to your friend?" She looks at him, looks at the phone, shakes her head and says, matter-of-factly, "No." Then walks away.

Moments later she was babbling excitedly into the phone, presumably to another "friend", cattily complaining about the loser friend who keeps calling at all hours and can't take a hint.


The Bringing Up Squid FaceBook page now has 50 likes! We'll be running a giveaway for a ThinkGeek gift certificate. You know you want one. Check out the page for details, which will be posted as soon as I can get them there!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Can We Please Give the Mommies a Break?

Even Daleks approve of baby-wearing.

When Squid was about 10 months old, I took her into a convenience store to grab a drink and a snack. At the time, she wasn't walking, so she would still allow me to wear her in a sling. The cashier oohed and aahed over my adorable baby girl and complimented me on baby-wearing. I smiled and said thank you and tried to pay for my items. But the cashier went on....

"I'll bet you breastfeed, too. All the people I know who wear their babies breastfeed for a long time."

I was a bit shocked. Not really used to having strangers ask what I do with my breasts. Not sober, at least. I stumbled a bit, then replied, "Ummm... No. We tried, but it didn't work out too well for us, so we had to switch to formula." And, once again, I believed that would be the end of the discussion. I would pay for my frickin' Powerade and be on my merry way.

The cashier had other ideas. She was appalled that I wasn't breastfeeding. Didn't I know that it was best for baby (you know, in case I missed all that at the hospital and doctor's offices)? Did I really try hard enough? You know, everyone can breastfeed if they try hard enough. Aren't I worried about the long-term consequences of not breastfeeding?

Looking back, I wish I had not been so polite. I wish I would have told the lady that it was none of her fucking business and to let me raise my child as best as I could. My only defense is that I was shocked that a complete stranger had the gall to ask me such personal questions. I clumsily answered as best as I could, paid for my stuff, and walked home and cried.

Mommies can't win. If we don't breastfeed, we're jeopardizing their health. If we breastfeed longer than society feels is appropriate, we are causing irreparable mental damage. If we wear our baby in a sling, we are spoiling her. If we put her in a stroller, we are inattentive. We receive judgment and criticism for everything we do and are quickly taught not to trust our own instincts in raising our own children.

Last year, Time ran an article about attachment parenting with a mother breastfeeding a 3-year-old on the cover and it started a major brouhaha. People on all sides suddenly had serious opinions on the issue and most were brutal. There was a lot of criticism over extended breastfeeding. Many women felt even more pressure to do things exactly right, or risk ruining their child forever.

Some women on Facebook cut through all the BS.

Greg and I practice our own modified version of attachment parenting. Squid slept in our room until she was too big for the co-sleeper. We considered letting her sleep in the bed, but Greg has sleep apnea and uses a CPAP at night. Plus, Squirmy Baby giggles every time the bed bounces. Even in her sleep.

I wore her nearly everywhere for the first year. Once she outgrew the Moby, we switched to a sling. And once she started walking.... well, Squirmy Baby won't stay in the sling for long, unless she's sleepy.

I received criticism from well-meaning people for both choices. And for picking her up every time she cried for the first several months. I was spoiling her. I was going to make her clingy. She would never learn to walk if I carried her (because babies in strollers learn so much about walking). I kept doing what I was doing because it felt right to me. I never judged those who did things differently, although I was happy to tell people why I did what I did. I even had one friend who said he and his wife would most likely get a bassinette with the next baby, since his wife had trouble sleeping with the baby in another room for the first couple of months. Co-sleeping seemed to hippy-like to him until I explained the benefits.

Now I have a very social, extremely active toddler. I like to think it's because of what I have done, but the fact is that she might have turned out this way regardless of what parenting style we chose. I think, in the end, she is generally friendly and happy because she has two parents who love her immensely and who want her to be happy, healthy, and well-adjusted. We do our best. We are generally flying blind. We are blessed with a variety of friends who are raising/have raised great kids using a all sorts of techniques.

And that's all any mommy or daddy can do. We do what we can. We screw up. We try to fix it. We screw up again. And at the end of the day, we hope for the best. I'm not screwing up my child because I carried her everywhere, but still fed her formula. I'm pretty sure pics like these are what's going to screw her up later on:

Mommy played The Dead Milkmen to me in utero.

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Great Barbie Debate

The other day, a friend's daughter told me that she was excited that one of her friends from school was coming over to play the following day. I asked her what they were going to do, and she replied, without hesitation, "I don't know yet. I don't have any Barbies, so we can't do that."

Aaaahhh... The Barbie Dilemma. While I cannot speak for my friend regarding the reasons her daughter has no Barbie dolls, I know many parents who have not allowed them into their homes. For years, while I dreamt of having my own offspring, I also struggled with the idea of Barbie. After all, I am a feminist, and I am well-aware of all the evil Barbie has brought into the lives of impressionable young girls. I have been inundated with magazine articles and blog posts over the years, all warning that every little girl who plays with Barbie will become anorexic and obsessed with shoes. Then Mattel does something stupid on occasion, such as making a talking Barbie say, "Math class is tough!", thus proving that Barbie is the spawn of a patriarchal Satan.

I don't want my daughter to be anorexic. And I don't want her to become obsessed with material goods. She doesn't need a Malibu Mansion or a corvette or a pet tiger. And I really don't want her thinking that math class is tough. But.....

Barbie was a frickin' ASTRONAUT! Tough or not, she had to pass math courses to get her ass into space. And before that, she was a nurse! She's been a teacher, a businesswoman, a veterinarian, a paleontologist, and a photographer. She has served in all of the armed forces and she has cos-played most of the main heroines and villains of both DC and Marvel. Since the beginning, Barbie has held a career. She doesn't need useless Ken (with his limited wardrobe) to support her. It's Barbie's Malibu Dream House. She pays the mortgage. And the car payment for that 'Vette, as well.

Young girls in the early 60s often didn't see a lot of hope for their futures. They may go to college. They may have a "career". Then they would get married and settle down and raise some kids. Barbie knew no boundaries. The first astronaut Barbie came on scene EIGHTEEN YEARS before we finally put a woman in space (in the USA, at least). Barbie could be absolutely everything, and look fabulous doing so.

Yes, I know she's not proportionate. Her waist is too small and her boobs are too big. But I still think that is a bigger issue with adults than it is with the kids playing with her. I never once looked at Barbie and thought, "I wish I was tall, skinny, and blond like her." I remember thinking, "I can be a US Ambassador!" I was never one for playing house with my dolls. I have few memories of pretending to be a mommy. I do remember pretending to be a schoolteacher or a nurse or a pilot, and using my dolls as props in those scenarios. Which may be why Barbie always appealed to me. Barbie was all of those things and more, and far more portable than the multitude of boxes and stuffed animals needed to produce a passable reenactment.

Squid is too young for Barbie right now. She'd end up choking on a plastic shoe. But I will most likely allow her to have one or five. And we will have discussions on beauty and how models are not healthy. And we will also have many, many discussions about how material goods cannot bring you long-term joy. But, most importantly, we will discuss how she is capable of achieving anything she wants, regardless of societal pressures and misconceptions. She can even be a frickin' astronaut.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

As I write this blog, hubby is out running errands and Squid is sleeping. I am enjoying some Mega Stuf Oreos (really, why isn't this the standard? or, at the very least, double stuf can be the standard and the regular ones can be "light") and waiting on laundry to finish. Isn't it romantic?

Earlier, on my personal facebook page, I posted a link to this video:

I love They Might Be Giants. Have since I was a kid. And they have some pretty spectacular kids' albums out, so I can share them with the Squid.

But, you know how when you fall in love, a song you have heard a million times takes on a whole new meaning? It's as though you have been let into some secret society and now you understand the inherent mystery of those lyrics.

The first time I heard this song after Squid was born, that's how I felt. I actually cried. Well, that may have been hormones. But, I felt as though I understood more to the song than the quirky lyrics originally let on. I understood that concept of having all the air removed, because I often felt that way when I looked at her.

No, my little girl isn't always angelic. There's quite a bit of devil in her grin (she gets that from Daddy). But, she is as close to heaven as this Atheist Pagany-type is ever going to get. Happy Valentine's Day, Squid.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Honesty in Parenting

I thought I'd manage to get something done with her in the playpen, but she chewed her way out

One of the Facebook pages that I follow is Moms Who Need Wine. It's a fun little group that posts humorous stuff about parenting, as well as wine reviews. None of the moms take themselves too seriously. Or so I thought. That changed the other morning when one of the moderators posted, "Do you ever have those days where you wake up and just don't feel like parenting?" And a mini-war erupted. A couple of people left the group in a huff. Some were appalled that a mommy would ever consider not mommy-ing.


As I pointed out in my comment, nobody asked who wakes up and doesn't want to be a parent. Parenting is a different thing. It involves cleaning messes and dealing with tantrums and cooking meals and entertaining a little person with the attention span of a goldfish on crack. It's tough work. I think Squid is the coolest toddler I know and I love spending time with her, but I wake up some mornings, groaning at the thought of doing all the parenting stuff. And I have a full-time job outside the home that takes me away from it all every third day.

Squid even tires out babysitters.

I mentioned in the post how I would love to have someone do all the "work" for me from time to time. They could wake up and get Squid dressed and fed while I slept in for 5 more minutes or actually enjoyed my coffee. I can't imagine these super-moms who leap out of bed EVERY SINGLE MORNING, happy to attend to all the needs of their delightful, precious angels. Who get excited about a fun-filled day of Raffi and Sesame Street and kids asking for cookies (or, in Squid's case, signing for crackers because she doesn't want to eat anything that looks healthy today). They must be overjoyed when their special little snowflake eats another crayon, not 30 seconds after you pulled one out of his or her mouth. Why the hell are they following Moms Who Need Wine anyway????

I think you missed a little spot over there.

Another follower gave a long (and slightly rambling) discourse on how none of us have ever struggled to have children and if we did, we would know what a gift it is to be a parent. First, yes. Yes, it is a gift to be a parent. One that I cherish each and every day. I have suffered losses. Squid's was not the easiest pregnancy. I ended up in the hospital with pre-eclampsia and Squid had meconium aspiration, just days before my scheduled C-section. I know, without a doubt, that I am lucky to have her in my life. 

But.... I am honest enough to know that parenting isn't glamorous. And it's not always fun. And I'm one of the lucky ones. I have a husband who is extremely involved in our child's life. He changes diapers and feeds her. He lets me sleep for a few hours after a rough 24-hour shift, taking care of Squid on his own. On the days that I work and he's off, he's on his own with our little girl.  But, he works midnights, and I am often left on my own while he sleeps during the day and is gone all night. I wouldn't trade it for anything, but I definitely deserve a glass of wine or a beer after she finally falls asleep on occasion.

And... Daddy's nose doubles as a teething toy.
Finally, I think it's sad that there is so much pressure to only emphasize the positive aspects of being a parent. How are we expected to ask for or receive help if we are supposed to keep up this charade of being perfect? Especially those of us who went through so much in order to have a child? We're made to feel like ungrateful wretches if we even dare whisper that this isn't all that it's cracked up to be. We're reminded that there are plenty of other women who would trade places with us in a heartbeat. Yes, of course they would. Who wouldn't want a sweet little girl who randomly comes up to you to give you a hug and a kiss? Who wouldn't want to watch a toddler laugh uproariously as they fall into a beanbag chair (again)? Being a parent is great. But that doesn't mean that we don't have those days where we wish someone else would take over the icky parts. That could leave more time for me to do the fun stuff, like reading books or coloring or just snuggling. Because there is never enough time for that.

They trick you by looking so sweet while they're sleeping.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

So Many Books, So Little Time...

I love to read. And I love children's books. I had a nice collection long before we even considered having a Squid. Not crappy, slap-the-cartoon-character-du-jour-on-the-cover, senseless chidren's books. I love the classics. And the ones that will one day be classics. I have multiple copies of Where The Wild Things Are.  We own books for every age group from picture board books to YA novels.

It should come as no surprise that we started a library of her own for Squid in utero. My baby shower had a storybook theme and everyone brought a children's book to add to the collection. The games had a fairy tale twist (rather than the normal "Guess How Fat Mommy Is" games).

These were the favor boxes at the shower. Aren't they cute?

Now, I realize that not everyone shares my love for children's books. But, just as I say to people who claim that they don't like books in general, "You just haven't found the right books yet!" The children's book industry is huge and caters to wonderfully diverse markets. There is literally something out there for everyone!

And, ever since geeks invented the internet and subsequently taken over the world, they have become a huge target for anyone wanting to make money. Also, getting your book published and sold has become slightly easier due to the internet (if you have the cash), and a lot of geeks are publishing the books they wanted to read as children.

So, in addition to your "normal" alphabet and counting books, we have books like these:

"A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest.”  -C.S. Lewis

Yes, there are two Neil Gaiman books in there. Because I love Neil Gaiman and pretty much everything he does. I also have a picture book of MirrorMask, but couldn't fit in on the table I used for this.

Some of these were gifts. Some we bought ourselves. Squid mostly likes the Star Wars ABCs and the Andy Warhol Colors books. (Thanks, Carrie and Ashley!!!) She also occasionally will sit through Pride and Prejudice (it's a counting book). She doesn't yet have the patience for the others, but we're working on it. And there are many other books that we want to add to her collection (including a few other Neil Gaiman books, and the rest of the BabyLit board books. But, until then....

"According to the Dewey Decimal System, War and Peace should be right here!"

  We got her a library card. And we do our best to take her to the library and get her used to that magical world. Right now, she is far more interested in the busy beads display. But, they have monthly toddler story hours and lots of books to pull from the shelves with an exasperated mommy scurrying behind to right things before the librarian catches us.

If I can do nothing else for my child, I can at least teach her to love and appreciate the written word. She may never have shelves full of books like her mommy and daddy do. She may carry her entire digital library in her pocket (or access it from the cybernetic implant in her head). But, if she can learn to find answers, or even momentarily escape reality, I will feel like I have succeeded as a parent.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Confessions of an Embarrassed Intellectual

"Whoa! I think I can see through the wall with these things!"

First, let me tell you that this was a difficult post to write. It's hard for me to actually put into words what I think and feel on this subject. Plus, I'm sure that there are those out there who are going to read their own prejudices into it and misunderstand what I am saying. Let me say that first and foremost, I love my daughter. There is nothing in the world that would make me love her less than I do now, and I love her more and more every single day. She is my life. Every thought I have involves her.

So, now it's confession time. I sometimes worry that my daughter isn't super-duper smart. In a "high IQ" sort of way. She has her own talents and gifts, but she has been a little behind the curve on the milestones, like crawling and walking and talking. I feel guilty that it's somehow my fault. I went back to work too soon. I didn't breastfeed long enough. I didn't buy the right brain-stimulating baby toys. I feel embarrassed as I listen to other parents talk about their "advanced" children and as I answer why Squid isn't doing those things yet. Then, of course, I feel guilty because I feel embarrassed. It's a vicious cycle and I haven't figured out how to get out of it.

I feel bad because I am sure part of the issue is my geekiness. Cerebral pursuits are important to me and my spouse. We're readers. We're gamers. We were both in drama. I was a in speech and debate in high school and started out as a biology major in college. I even belonged to Mensa for a short while.

Again, don't misunderstand what I am saying. It's not that I would judge Squid for not testing off the charts or for not being labelled "gifted". I just worry that she would feel bad, knowing that mom and dad are such nerds, if she isn't. I don't want her to feel that we don't understand or couldn't understand her. I don't want her worrying about trying to prove something to us and not learning to appreciate her own unique gifts and qualities.

And I am proud of who she is already, regardless of any future test scores. I mean, have you read any of this blog? She is charismatic in a way I will never be. She already shows a talent for spatial reasoning that boggles her father and me.And she is flat-out hilarious. I laugh every day at one antic or another.

I know that her attitude is going to be completely dependent on my attitude. And I am trying to formulate a game plan that covers all possibilities. But I am totally flying blind on this. I'm taking it day by day, hoping that inspiration strikes and that I will see the golden opportunities to nudge her in the right directions. At the same time, I don't want to ever downplay my own smarts, because I NEVER want her to think that women should pretend to be dumb for society's sake. I would rather her be over-confident in her self-worth and intelligence than ever think of herself as "less than".

I really want her to understand that I don't value brains above all else. I would completely give up a bunch of IQ points if I could trade them in for social skills. Plus, there is a lot of pressure on smart people to be smart all the time and in all things. And if you aren't, you are either lazy or just not that smart. I also value hard work over natural talent, because I've learned that hard work is what gets you places. Natural talent only gets a toe in the door.

But, Squid is only 19 months old. There is so much time for her to grow into the person she will become. For now, we read to her as often as she will sit still and let us. We expose her to as many experiences as we can for her age. We pepper our praises with "You worked very hard at that!" "Wow, you were able to figure that out all by yourself!" just as often as we say "You are so smart!" We take it a day at a time and try not to obsess about what the future holds.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


I have two posts outlined out on paper. Getting it here is another story. Off this week from work, and taking care of Squid is taking every bit of energy I have. I will eventually get something worth reading on here, but right now I have to chase down a toddler who is running away with a coffee cup (empty) and one of my work ties, yelling, "Bye! Bye!" I think she's late for work.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Wil Shakespeare Rides Again

If you do not follow me on Facebook, you may be wondering why I have a picture of a William Shakespeare action figure atop a dinosaur. There is definitely a story behind this.

As we have predetermined, Squid is gender-blind when it comes to toys. She has some dolls that she rocks and "burps" and throws. She has blocks and balls and rubber duckies that she pits against each other in epic battles. And she has dinosaurs that she rocks and burps and pits against each other in epic battles. I often find myself wondering what is going through her mind as she plays with her toys, and I really can't wait for her to expand her vocabulary so that she might share a glimpse of her world with me.

A few weeks ago, as I was cooking dinner, I listened in on a rather strange conversation the spouse was having with Squid:

I even took the time to post a status about it!

There were comments about Shakespeare being old, but not quite a fossil, and what noises dinos and dead playwrights make (according to Squid, they all say, "RAWR!"). There were many puns that involved the juxtaposition of famous monologues and ancient taxonomy. And, of course, there were pictures:

"No, Daddy. Wil rides this one!"

Greg even fashioned a harness from a pipe-cleaner to help Wil ride his dino:

But Wil was a bit drunk and couldn't hold on for very long. You know how those writers are.

Much of the rest of our evening was filled with jokes, puns, and status updates that made our teacher friends groan. Who needs cable television when you have a toddler, some plastic dinosaurs, and a William Shakespeare action figure? Right?

It was a great laugh, but soon forgotten as we found other things to explore and destroy. Or so we thought....

I had to take Squid with me to a meeting last week and I told her that she could bring a couple of toys to entertain herself with. I put out her WonderWoman car, a teddy bear, Spiderman, and her dinos. She picked up one of the dinosaurs (the reddish, raptor-y, stegosaurus-type one), turned it this way and that, inspecting it closely. Then she dropped it and raced out of the room on a mission. Curious, I peeked around the corner to see what the deal was. She came trotting back to the living room, carrying William Shakespeare, Action Hero. She grabbed his faithful steed and was ready to go!

May her high school English teacher forgive me.