Sunday, November 27, 2011

Giving Thanks

Just a few things L.E. is thankful for.

It's that time of year where you enjoy your family and friends and count your blessings. Or air your grievances, depending on what holiday you celebrate. I see a lot of negativity in my social networks and I want to break the cycle by posting something positive. Who knows, maybe it will be infectious and people will realize how good they have it.
It's now day four of Thanksgiving weekend so I've taken some time over the last few days to really think about what I have to be thankful for. Sure, there's the obvious: my beautiful L.E., my amazing now-Dr. husband, my dog who still wags his tail in a circle...but I have so much more than that.
I've been taking classes to get my degree in social media and my assignment this week is to generate content. The instructor presented 52 ideas for generating content, one of which is to make a best-of list. So here it is:

Things for Which I'm Thankful, Including the Three I've Already Mentioned

• L.E. for giving me reasons to laugh hysterically every day. She learned how to say, "I pooped!" but never says it in context. The second she sees anything football-related, she says, "Touchdown! Go Steelers!" which is her first real sentence. She fights with Porter over cookies; sometimes she lets him win. She carried the Costco-sized carton of Goldfish down the hall so she could eat just one. Her newest obsession is brushing her teeth. She likes to suck on her toes. She is the most wonderful and amazing person I've ever known, hips and all. I wouldn't change a thing about her.

• T, of whom I can't be more proud. He finished his PhD while dealing with my pregnancy, new baby,  finding a camper van so we would camp more comfortably, finishing the basement, having dinner on the table every night, all while still working his full-time job and not neglecting his family. The man deserves a medal. Seriously, all that and he cooks, too! I love him as my husband but I like him even more as my friend.

• My dog, Porter. He's awesome. Smelly, but awesome.

• My friends. In particular, my friend M who invited me to spend Thanksgiving with her family and encourages me to wear "eating pants." She made me a pumpkin roll because I not-so-subtly demanded it. She gives me the best advice like, "Of course you should get T an iPad! It's like getting one for yourself."
My BFF C also "gets" me in the best way possible. Like when she offered to pick me up for a girls' night out and told me I was going to have to put out a little. I went over to help her move and I didn't have to lift a finger because I brought sandwiches. We go to dinner and stuff our faces but still get dessert.
(Yes, all of my friends really do understand my obsession with food)
I'm thankful for L.E.'s godmother E because she's always just a phone call away when I need her. She listens to me cry and complain with the patience of a saint. I miss her terribly.
And all of my friends who have been there for us through everything, I thank you. I wasn't the easiest new-mom to deal with and it took me a while to feel like myself again. I appreciate everyone who stood by me and supported me when I needed it the most. I wish I could name you all here, but the initial thing would get really confusing since I know so many S's, M's and J's. I love you all.
Lastly for the friends category, thanks for reading this blog and for not judging me to my face.

• My sister who had a rough year in her own right. I hope she knows she's the best auntie a little girl could ask for. I hope she feels better soon or else she's getting a designer babushka for Christmas.

• My mom and dad. They're nuts but they still make me laugh and are truly amazing grandparents. They spoil their only granddaughter rotten, as they should. I'm confused by it. These are the same people who forced me to play sports, which I did horribly, but would never dream of making L.E. do something she doesn't want to do. No, I'm not bitter. That's what therapy is for.
L.E. will grab my phone and demand we call Gndma and Bap Bap just to say hi so they're definitely making an impression on her. She's lucky to have them as am I.

• Jeans with built-in stretch.

• The small businesses who served champagne at 6 am on Black Friday.

• The $5 bill I found in the bottom of my purse.

Mindy Kaling's book

• My Kindle Fire so I can read books again.

• The giant deep-fryer we still have set up in the backyard so we can play, "Can you deep-fry a whole chicken? Can you deep-fry potatoes? Can you deep-fry *insert delicious food here*?"

• My cleaning service.

• Still trying to keep my Couch-to-5k goal.

• My job. I like going to work every day. And I like being in a creative field.

• The people who judge me. You make me strive to be a better parent and person.

• Sunny days in November

• The things you're supposed to be thankful for: running water, heat, pillows, cheese, free WiFi, etc.

• American Horror Story, which is pretty much the only TV show I look forward to every week.

• The fact that it's 1:00 pm and I'm still in my PJs.

• Facials.

• L.E's little friends who make playdates so much fun!

• L.E.'s little friends' moms who make playdates so much fun!

• The Muppets.

• Proofreading.

• The Christmas season. It is what you make it. Some people see it as consumer-driven commercialism. You should enjoy it for what it really is. I see it as an excuse to listen to Dean Martin and eat your weight in cookies while getting freaked out by claymation masterpieces.
So there you have it. Not very succinct but brevity isn't one of my strengths. Seasons Greetings!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Is TV really that bad?

Now that you mention it, it does look a tad devilish...
I thought we were above this. I thought L.E. was going to be the same kind of quasi-nerdy bookworm I am. She would plie T and I with every book from her shelf in the mornings, demanding we read just one more. Those days are gone. The tales of Curious George, Harry the Dirty Dog and Pete the Cat have been replaced by the evil flat-panel on the wall: TV.
Instead of plopping Baby's First 100 Animals on our laps, L.E. brings the remote. "Babba. Babba. BABBA!!!" which means, "Turn on Yo Gabba Gabba or I will REALLY make your life miserable. I have ways of screaming you haven't even heard yet!" So we relent. Just one episode, just a taste. Next thing you know, she's four episodes in and dancey-dancing until her legs fall off. We really try to keep it limited but at the same time, we're busy people and sometimes letting her watch her favorite show is easier when we're trying to get ready in the morning, get her lunch going, do housework, etc. I'm not using TV as a babysitter; more like TV is the friendly neighbor who stopped by for a cup of coffee and also happens to be the equivalent of a vaudeville entertainer. It makes her happy. And we really do limit it to just Yo Gabba and Sesame Street. Unless the Steelers are on TV... or any football game...
So is it really so bad that she loves TV? Didn't we all grow up loving TV? I can't remember a time in my life when TV wasn't a part of it. Scooby Doo, The Flintstones, G.I. Joe, The Smurfs, Bugs Bunny, The Golden Girls, The Facts of Life, The Cosby Show, Family Ties, Cheers, Friends, Seinfeld, Wings, 90210 (the original), The sister and I used to skip Sunday night church and go watch The Simpsons at our old babysitter's house. (Sorry, Dad). T and I would have weekly viewing nights for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and South Park. TV was and is a huge part of our lives.
 I consider myself a reasonably intelligent person; I'm a college graduate. My husband has his PhD. The TV in our home is turned on every day. I cannot name a single Real Housewife and think the Kardashians are the most boring people on the planet. I'm pretty selective on what reality shows I watch (mostly the ones with food in them.)  
Try to remember the last time you didn't have access to a TV. Chances are you were camping and pretty miserable.
Stefanie Wilder-Taylor describes "New Mommy Math" in her book Naptime is the New Happy Hour. If any mom says her child only watches one hour of educational TV a day, add two more hours to that. If she says her child watches zero TV, add six hours. It's amazing to me that we've been reduced to lying about something that is ubiquitous in every sense of the word.
The AAP recommends zero TV for children under two. They say talking, singing and reading to your child is far more important. I agree to a point. I would love nothing more than to sing to L.E. all day but being that I have just about the worst singing voice ever, I don't think she'd appreciate it that much. But Elmo singing about how much he loves his tricycle is just the thing for her. We still read to her as much as we can, which is seriously like ten books a day. (No New Mommy Math here!) But she loves to learn in as many different ways she can. Why isn't TV an acceptable learning tool? 
L.E. goes to a wonderful preschool where she learns an incredible amount every day. She tells me what she's learned that day and we keep the conversation going when she's at home. She knows her animals and her favorite foods. She even remembers her friends' names when they're not around. She sings about Five Little Monkeys and Little Bunny Foo-Foo (complete with bops on the head) and even does the appropriate arm movements. She dances her little heart out any chance she gets. She'll throw her arms up at me and we dance the sillies out together. 
But she didn't learn how to dance at daycare; that she learned from TV.